Three new linkways at Southern Ridges cost S$25.5m

Three new linkways at Southern Ridges cost S$25.5m


SINGAPORE: The three new linkways at the Southern Ridges cost the Urban Redevelopment Authority S$25.5 million to build.


To enjoy the view on foot, one must be prepared to spend at least two and half hours to cover the entire attraction. Harbour views in the day and city lights at night are some of the sights one can enjoy while strolling along the Henderson Waves bridge.


At a height of 36 metres or 12 storeys from the road, it’s the highest pedestrian bridge in Singapore. The 300-metre bridge links up the parks at Mount Faber and Telok Blangah Hill.


The bridge is constructed using steel and all-weather timber which can be found in Southeast Asia. As a lot of wood was used in the decking, the National Parks Board (NParks), which is maintaining the structure, said smoking will be prohibited for safety reasons.


Beyond the Henderson Waves Bridge and a one-kilometre hilltop walk, you also get to experience the meandering forest walk and earth trails. But NParks assures that these are harmless.


The 1.3 kilometre raised walkway, with heights ranging from three to 18 metres, brushes the canopy of the secondary forest of Telok Blangah Hill.


And NParks said the trees are inspected regularly. It has also made sure that there are no overhanging branches over the forest walk.


While this will help prevent visitors from being hurt by fallen branches, NParks hopes people can be responsible for their own safety and avoid the trail during thunderstorms.


It’s also keeping an eye on security.


Kong Yit San, Director, Parks, NParks, said: “We do have interconnecting staircases, exits and entrances clearly marked, while the forest walk goes through a secondary forest. It’s also quite near to HDB areas and certain residences. So we don’t feel that there is a high security concern. But nevertheless, this is a new thing, we will be sending so-called maintenance crew on a daily basis to check out in case some naughty kids (who) decide to mess with it (or) add something to it. Just challenge us in maintenance.”


According to NParks, the other new bridge, the Alexandra Arch will be easier to maintain.


It spreads out like an opened leaf over Alexandra Road and will lead visitors to Hort Park and on to Kent Ridge Park.


To commemorate the event, the Monetary Authority of Singapore has launched the Singapore Identity Plan (Southern Ridges) Coin.


These limited collections will be sold by the Singapore Mint. – CNA/vm


Source: Channel NewsAsia

PM Lee opens new pedestrian bridges and Hort Park at Southern Ridges

PM Lee opens new pedestrian bridges and Hort Park at Southern Ridges


SINGAPORE: You can now take a 9-kilometre walk from Mount Faber to Telok Blangah Hill and Kent Ridge Park. The three hills are collectively known as the Southern Ridges and they are linked by two new pedestrian bridges and a walkway, which were opened on Saturday by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.


PM Lee said the Southern Ridges is part of the country’s effort to transform itself into a city of gardens and water.


As Singapore’s economy and population continues to grow, Mr Lee assured that the government will strive to provide the highest quality of life possible for all residents.


PM Lee said: “I think quite a lot of Singaporeans worry that our quality of life will suffer, that there won’t be enough space for all of us. And they ask, “Is our little island getting too crowded, will we lose our sense of comfort of space and greenery?” My answer is we will continue to provide a first class living environment for all Singaporeans. We have done quite well in this respect and we will build on this to do better.”


That means making water ways and greenery more accessible to the public.


Mr Lee continued: “We will build a park connector from the Alexandra Arch, along Alexandra Road to Labrador Park. We will link up to a mangrove boardwalk at Berlayer Creek, with its rich biodiversity. And eventually connect to a waterfront broad walk from Bukit Chermin all the way to Vivocity.”


Cheong Koon Hean, CEO, Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), said: “You are literally walking on the boardwalk with the sea on your right and you can see Sentosa and it will go all the way in front of Labrador Park and also Reflections and then you reach VivoCity. With that, the entire southern ridges will be fully connected. It will be a totally different experience.”


The URA first announced its plans to link the Southern Ridges to the parks as part of its Identity Plan in 2002.


And it was widely supported, garnering a 93 per cent endorsement from Singaporeans in a survey.


An online public poll was conducted earlier this year to decide on the names of the two bridges. And Henderson Waves and Alexandra Arch were selected from among 11 options.


Mr Lee later toured the US$13 million horticultural park or HortPark off Alexandra Road.


The 23-hectare park is Southeast Asia’s first one-stop gardening and lifestyle hub. It plans to attract one million visitors a year. -CNA/vm


Source: Channel NewsAsia

Property key driver as F&N H1 net profit rises 11.7%

Property key driver as F&N H1 net profit rises 11.7%


Group looks to grow other business segments; second-quarter net earnings fall 9.8%


THE property segment was the key profit driver for Fraser & Neave (F&N) in the first half of its financial year. But that may change in future as the group looks to grow other business segments, with action likely to occur on the food and beverage (F&B) front.


F&N yesterday reported net earnings of $96.6 million for the second quarter ended March 31, 2008, 9.8 per cent down from $107.1 million in Q2 2007.


But for the six months to March 31, net earnings rose 11.7 per cent to $205.2 million, from $183.7 million in the corresponding period last year. This came on the back of a 12 per cent increase in revenue for H1 2008, to $2.46 billion from $2.20 billion in the year-ago period.


Earnings per share for H1 2008 was 14.8 cents, up 2 cents. Interim dividend remained at five cents per share.


H1 profit before interest, taxation and exceptional items rose 10 per cent to $406 million. The property segment took up the largest share of this, at $224.8 million or 55 per cent.


Describing F&N’s strategy going forward, group company secretary Anthony Cheong said: ‘From the viewpoint of balancing the portfolio of our businesses, there is that intention to increase the contribution from our other businesses so that there is less reliance on the profits of property.’


‘One way of achieving a great leap must be through mergers and acquisitions (M&As),’ Mr Cheong also said. And asked if M&As would occur in the F&B industry, Mr Cheong replied: ‘Yes we are looking at M&As in the F&B industry.’


According to F&N, its newly-acquired Nestle business, stronger soft drinks sales, improved performance by Frasers Hospitality, and higher rental income from its commercial property division also led to profit improvement.


In the group’s press release, chairman Lee Hsien Yang said: ‘Our strong half-year results demonstrated the resilience of F&N’s portfolio of businesses.’


Mr Lee also noted that ‘while the global economic outlook is now less certain, the weaker market presents excellent opportunities for F&N to make investments at more reasonable values’.


F&N’s ongoing search for a CEO was also discussed at yesterday’s results briefing. Speaking to reporters, Mr Cheong mentioned that finding a suitable candidate remained a priority for the group, because in the long term, ‘you cannot have a driverless train’.


In response to continuing market talk that F&N’s business may be split in future, Mr Cheong reiterated the stand that there were no plans to break the group up at the moment.


Shares of F&N closed at $4.92 yesterday, three cents up.


Source: Business Times

A-Reit buyer of Creative’s HQ building in Jurong East

A-Reit buyer of Creative’s HQ building in Jurong East




ASCENDAS Real Estate Investment Trust (A-Reit) has emerged as the buyer of Creative Technology’s headquarters building at 31 International Business Park in Jurong East. The price will be $246.8 million.


Creative said in March that it had agreed to sell and lease back the property but did not disclose the buyer’s identity. The deal is subject to approval by Creative shareholders and JTC Corp.


On completion of the sale, a Creative subsidiary will lease the property for five years, with options to renew for a further three plus two years.


A-Reit’s manager said the average yield for the initial five-year lease will be 6.24 per cent. Additional rent is payable in the third and fifth years of the lease if the cumulative increase in Singapore’s Consumer Price Index exceeds 5 per cent.


Had A-Reit bought, held and operated the property since the start of the current financial year, the proposed acquisition would have boosted its distributable income per unit by 0.07 cent.


A-Reit’s manager will receive a $2.5 million acquisition fee. Other transaction costs are estimated at $3.7 million.


The property, valued by CB Richard Ellis at $246.8 million, is a part five-storey, part seven-storey and part eight-storey tower with basement parking.


It has an auditorium and a 2,000-capacity outdoor amphitheatre and is on a 265,739-sq-ft site with 30 + 30 year leasehold tenure from Dec 16, 1994.


A-Reit plans to fund the acquisition by debt and/or equity. On the stock market yesterday, the counter ended 14 cents lower at $2.50.


Source: Business Times

YOG village will be completed by Feb 2010

YOG village will be completed by Feb 2010


It will be 4-5 months ahead of schedule because of ‘green lane’ status




THE Youth Olympics Games (YOG) village will be ready by February 2010 – four to five months ahead of schedule, thanks to the government giving the project ‘green lane’ status.


This means that there will be plenty of time for fitting out and testing, well ahead of the Games opening ceremony on Aug 14, 2010.


Various government agencies have agreed to work together and give greater priority and resources to the project at the new 19 ha University Town campus of the National University of Singapore (NUS).


The agencies will speed up approval processes, anticipate problems, resolve issues with consultants and contractors, among other things.


The Building and Construction Authority (BCA), Urban Redevelopment Authority, National Environment Agency, NParks and the Land Transport Authority have been roped in so far.


NUS deputy president for administration Joseph Mullinix, who chairs the University Town development committee, said that the government’s decision to step in has helped eliminate many barriers.


‘The biggest one is time,’ he said. ‘This project is very large. You are talking about 25-storey buildings on a very compact site, and in a very short timeframe. This is a time of heavy construction activity in Singapore, so we needed to be sure we could attract the best contractors. ‘


The International Olympic Committee (IOC) docked several points off Singapore’s score when it bid for the YOG last year, citing concerns over the island’s ability to complete the Games village on time.


But doubts were cast aside when Singapore’s YOG committee reassured the IOC in December last year that there would be no hiccups with construction or red tape.


Poh Yu Khing, director of the Sports Hub project, said: ‘The IOC looks at construction of major projects around the world all the time. When they saw our University Village project and the time line, naturally they had question marks. But we explained how our construction industry stands out – it is much more certain and is always able to deliver on time.’


He cited factors such as Singapore’s weather, which allows construction to be carried out most of the year, extended work hours and expanded foreign quotas the government can grant for strategic projects.


BCA, the coordinating agency for University Town, is playing the role of ‘goalkeeper’ to ensure that the technical needs of all the other agencies are complied with.


Hardly any changes were made to the original design of the University Town after it was confirmed that it would be the site of the YOG village.


The only significant addition, said Mr Mullinix, is a dining hall that will be set up to accommodate all 3,500 athletes and the officials during meal times. This is a temporary structure that will be taken down when the Games are over, he said.


Piling work has already begun at University Town, after a ground-breaking ceremony in February.


The campus, going up on land that was the Warren Golf Course, will cost between $500 million and $600 million to build. After YOG is over, the campus will be used by NUS students who will live, learn and socialise under the same roof as their professors.


A two-level bridge across the Ayer Rajah Expressway – the upper for cars and lower for pedestrians – will link the town to the main NUS campus at Kent Ridge.


Source: Business Times

Stanchart goes on hiring spree

Stanchart goes on hiring spree


Bank swims against the tide; plans to recruit another 500 in S’pore and 10,000 worldwide




(SINGAPORE) While banks in the US and Europe are making announcements – almost on a daily basis – about job cuts and writedowns, Standard Chartered stands quietly poised to grab any talent that may come its way.


As its peers downsize, Stanchart will hire aggressively, especially in Asia. The bank has decided to swim against the general tide of gloom and feels this is the time to grow.


The bank derives most of its profits from Asia, Africa and the Middle East and has escaped relatively unscathed from the sub-prime fallout. It is well-positioned to expand, it said.


A Stanchart spokeswoman told BT yesterday that its Singapore operations will be expanding by nearly 11 per cent in 2008 alone. Some 500 people will be hired in Singapore across the consumer and wholesale banking and support functions, mainly in sales and risk management positions. The bank employs some 4,700 people in Singapore.


In all, the bank will be hiring 10,000 staff this year, across the world according to Richard Meddings, Stanchart’s group finance director.


The biggest hiring spree will be in India where the bank plans to recruit another 3,000 people. Another 1,500 will be hired in China, 500 in Hong Kong, 400 in Pakistan, while the remaining 4,100 will be spread across different geographies. The bank’s consumer banking business will see the biggest expansion staff-wise. More than half of the new hires – 6,000 people – will be recruited for this segment, while 1,000 will add to the wholesale banking staff. The remaining 3,000 hires will be slotted in support functions like risk, finance, operations, and technology.


‘We are well-positioned for growth and are investing in people to leverage on the opportunities in the market,’ said the Stanchart spokeswoman.


‘We have been very successful in supporting this growth in Singapore due to our ability to attract, engage and develop talent across our markets,’ she added. The bank on Wednesday said it had writedowns of US$97 million on its asset-backed securities portfolio for the first quarter. Another US$156 million charge was made to reflect losses arising from the change in the fair value of its available-for- sale reserves. The bank reported writedowns of US$300 million for 2007 on the value of of some of its its asset-backed securities.


All this, however, paled in comparison with the bank’s profits before tax of US$4.04 billion for 2007.


This compares to other banks which have been beset with losses from their investments in collateralised debt obligations (CDOs). Swiss bank UBS AG, reported a net loss of 11.5 billion Swiss francs (S$15 billion) for its first quarter on the back of writedowns of US$19 billion. UBS is cutting 5,500 jobs globally, on top of 1,500 already earlier announced.


Citi reported a straight quarterly loss of US$5.11 billion , undone by more than US$15 billion in writedowns and increased reserves for credit losses. The US financial giant announced the slashing of 9,000 more jobs, in addition to the 4,200 job cuts already reported in January..


Source: Business Times

Inflation may ease: Tharman

Inflation may ease: Tharman


Weekend • May 10, 2008


— Bloomberg


Singapore‘s inflation may slow down in the second half from that of the preceding period, Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said.


The government does not need to adjust its inflation forecast of 4.5 per cent to 5.5 per cent, Mr Tharman told reporters in Jakarta yesterday. Singapore’s policies focus on the long-term trend, he said.


The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) expects this year’s inflation to average at the “upper half” of its forecast range of between 4.5 per cent and 5.5 per cent, after prices gained 2.1 per cent last year.


Inflation has accelerated in the past year to 5.6 per cent — its highest in 26 years — partly because of rising raw material prices and after the government raised the goods and services tax on July 1. Global food prices surged 57 per cent in the past year while crude oil prices have doubled.


Last month, the MAS unexpectedly targeted a stronger trading range for the currency to help ease rising costs of staples such as food and energy.


Source: Today Newspaper

OUE earmarks $530m to build 38-storey tower

OUE earmarks $530m to build 38-storey tower


Tenants of existing block given till end of this month to vacate premises


By Joyce Teo


THE fitness chain True Yoga will have to find a new position to assume in the business district after one of its outlets got its marching orders, but it might be a bit of a stretch given the shortage of office space.


True Yoga and other tenants, including chemist Watsons and the Denise wine shop, must leave the retail block at the OUB Centre at Raffles Place to make way for a $530 million office tower.


The yoga and fitness centre, which takes up more than 30,000 sq ft across four floors of the low-rise retail podium, will close at midnight next Thursday.


The other tenants must leave by the end of this month.


True Yoga has not yet secured another site, but its clients can use the group’s other two outlets at Pacific Plaza and Ocean Towers in Raffles Place. It has also arranged for its fitness clients to use facilities at Planet Fitness for six months and further extended membership packages for another six months.


Property firm Overseas Union Enterprise (OUE) will start to redevelop the retail podium site from June 1.


The podium sits next to the 60-storey OUB Centre office tower, which will not be affected by the redevelopment.


OUE received provisional permission to redevelop the podium in August last year.


True Yoga said yesterday that it was first told of the landlord’s plans on Jan 31 and given three months’ notice.


It was then granted extensions on a month-to-month basis as there had been a chance the development plans might be delayed. OUE then confirmed on April 4 that there would be no further extensions, as construction would start next month.


‘We have been actively looking for alternative locations,’ a True Yoga spokesman said last night.


‘It is not easy to locate a site of this magnitude within such a short time since the final notification on April 4.’


Some True Yoga clients were upset with the late notice of the closure.


Although the new office block will be ready only in three years, OUE has already started leasing talks with potential office tenants.


Such forward leasing action is common these days, given rising supply looming in the next 12 months and beyond.


A significant portion of OUE’s $530 million outlay will go to the Government for increasing the site’s allowable gross floor area and topping up the site’s lease from 75 years to 99 years.


Three floors in the new tower will be devoted to retail and the rest to offices. The entire block will have a total gross floor area of 45,158 sq m.


The development comes amid a boom time for office development, particularly in the business district, though there are concerns of an oversupply after 2010.


Rents have surged in the past year, with prime Grade A rents now hovering between $17 per sq ft (psf) and $18 psf.


‘There are now two market rates at work, depending on the occupation period,’ said Mr Donald Han, managing director of Cushman & Wakefield.


Rents at OUB Centre Tower 2, if already ready, could be about $18 psf. Forward rental rates for the same building, however, would be lower – possibly $15 psf to $16 psf – considering rising supply, he said.


True Yoga was in the headlines last month when sovereign wealth fund Dubai International Capital snapped up a key stake in the firm.








‘It is not easy to locate a site of this magnitude within such a short time.’

A TRUE YOGA SPOKESMAN, on the fitness centre having to find another location after being told to leave its 30,000 sq ft outlet at OUB Centre



Source: Straits Times

Remaking Jurong: From ulu town to romantic lake district

Remaking Jurong: From ulu town to romantic lake district


Can Jurong with its uncool industrial image be transformed into a romantic lake district that is also rich in jobs? Lee Siew Hua meets the zestful planners behind the new Jurong Lake District and looks at the prospects of success for Singapore’s next mini-metropolis


By Lee Siew Hua in Singapore


THE Jurong Lake District planners were lamenting to each other that the lakefront appeared so near, yet is so far.


Jurong Lake was integral to their radical plan to transform Jurong, with its colourless factory-town image, into Singapore’s only lush lakeside destination for business and leisure.


But it was a plodding 750m away from the heart of activity.


Four words, however, got around the problem.


‘Bring the lake closer’, architect Fun Siew Leng said in an SMS to her team members.


The intriguing words were to spark an idea that has become a much talked-about feature in Singapore’s newest plan to redevelop and rebrand Jurong, an icon in the country’s post-independent history.


Jurong, a swampland turned into industrial town, is to be given a new sinuous waterway, carved to wrap around a to-be-built Lakeside Village that will be dotted with boutique hotels and cafes.


This think-out-of- the-box episode is just one of several sparkling instances that lit the one-year journey taken by a dozen planners and architects at the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) to bring fresh life and vibrancy to a sleepy hollow.


But at the heart of their plan is the lake, reflected in its brand new name: Jurong Lake District.


Unveiled early last month by National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan, the vision will evolve over 10 to 15 years to a mini-metropolis for Singaporeans to live, work and play.


But as it evolves, what are the constraints and assets of the district that the planners have to deal with? What are its chances of success?


Will Jurong be a showpiece or will residents enjoy tangible benefits?


And no less intriguing is the behind-the-scenes work: how did the planners channel their labour and imagination?


Early triumphs


WHATEVER the future, the present, at least, is promising – the project began on a strong note.


One, the URA convinced the Singapore Science Centre to stay. A well-known landmark, the centre was planning to pull up its roots and move elsewhere.


It will now get a new home on the waterfront, and be within easy reach of the Chinese Garden MRT station. Its learning activities can also be taken outdoors to the lakeside.


‘We had to hardsell the idea,” Mrs Koh-Lim Wen Gin tells Insight. Leader of the team responsible for the big picture and the vision, she is the URA’s chief planner and deputy chief executive officer (physical planning and conservation and urban design).


The centre was vital as the team had envisioned it anchoring a cluster of four or five edutainment centres.


‘Many Singaporeans also grew up with the Science Centre when young,” points out Ms Fun, the spirited director of urban planning and design who sent out the SMS.


Second, as the URA team tells it, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) was looking for the next big thing after the Integrated Resorts (IRs).


Says Mrs Koh-Lim: ‘We helped identify Jurong Lake as a major tourism cluster that will support edutainment uses for the family.”


Third triumph: The Land Transport Authority plans to improve the Jurong East MRT station and bus interchange to serve a growing population.


The future science centre, the quest for a new buzz after the IRs and the uplifting of transport created a ‘confluence of opportunity’ ‘, says Mrs Koh-Lim.


To make the most of these possibilities, the team went onsite to size up the strengths and weaknesses of Jurong.


They tramped all over the 360ha site on foot, sometimes taking their families, and at different hours of the day to observe the changing light.


Up the Chinese Garden pagoda they went for a higher perspective. And aerial pictures were snapped from a helicopter.


Facing constraints


AS THEY worked and consulted with 100 developers, professionals and advisers, two big constraints became evident: image and distance.


Indeed, the image was so ulu that the team wondered if the name ‘Jurong’ should be abandoned.


But feedback from their consultations was a clear ‘no’.


‘Jurong is a brand known locally and internationally, ” says Mrs Koh-Lim.


Foreign executives knew Jurong and companies across the world had set up shop since the early days of industrialisation in the 60s. Homely factories churned out hair cream and joss-sticks then. But now, electronics and high-tech industries prevail.


Since Jurong had an identity, its image needed a strategic tweak, not dumping.


For that, the planners roamed the world, figuratively. They loved England’s scenic Lake District, which is linked with the poetry of William Wordsworth.


Inspiring too was Hangzhou’s West Lake, whose beauty is celebrated in Chinese classics, poetry and paintings. Song Dynasty poet Su Dongpo once compared the West Lake to Xi Zi, a famous beauty in ancient China.


And, of course, Jurong too is in the west of Singapore.


In the buzz of brainstorming, the team cleverly tied the ‘lake district’ concept to Jurong.


Settling on the new name was one breakthrough for the image exercise.


The perception that Jurong is far and isolated, the team felt, was wrong. They tried taking the train and car into Jurong from the city – and zoomed in within 20 to 25 minutes, a swift pace that surprised even themselves.


In future, attractions like the future Singapore Science Centre will be clustered closer to the water or to the three MRT stations that serve the area.


Besides image and distance, is air quality an issue?


Mr Lim Eng Hwee, URA director (physical planning), says the lake district is encircled by homes.


Although there are some industries about 600m northeast of the district, in Toh Guan and Bukit Batok, they are ‘mainly clean and light industries” , he adds.


Heavier industries are more than 5km away in Jurong Island, and in Tuas which is more than 10km away.


The air quality in the western part of Singapore is safe, he says, based on monitoring by the National Environment Agency (NEA).


Meanwhile, the failed Tang Dynasty Village theme park and dispirited landmarks like the Chinese Garden are reminders that success is not always easy in Jurong.


The $100-million Tang Dynasty Village was built in 1991. It was shuttered in 1999 when it failed to attract enough visitors.


The 12ha attraction will be torn down by next year.


What’s next?


Mr Lim, the director of physical planning, says: ‘The site will be reconfigured and released for a new development concept.” Investors will have flexible use of the waterfront site.


Chances of success


ON THE probability of success, Dr Tan Cheng Bock, president of the Jurong Country Club and former MP for Ayer Rajah says: ‘Jurong is no longer boring and ulu.”


More importantly, the lake district and its west coast environs has a population base of one million people, he notes. The critical mass is there, and improved transport will bring in visitors.


He knows Jurong intimately and is near-poetic as he thinks about its underplayed appeal. ‘It’s a beautiful town, especially around Jurong Lake. It’s a jewel,” he says.


‘Jurong Island is like a Cinderella City, all lit up at night. The new Lakeside Village will be like Clarke Quay.”


So optimistic is Dr Tan that even before he knew of the Jurong Lake District blueprint, he was planning to build a hotel within the golf club.


It will possibly be a four-star hotel of 200 to 300 rooms, for foreign executives who fly in to work in the industries or petrochemical complex on Jurong Island.


The hotel idea was prompted by visitors frequently dropping in at the club to ask if it has rooms, says Dr Tan.


The URA and MPs interviewed say that what is new this time is that the area has been planned ‘holistically’ ‘.


Says Mr Lim, the URA director: ‘It merges the strengths of a new regional centre comprising some 750,000 sq m of commercial space, with the beautiful greenery of Jurong Lake.’


Also, Singapore needs to introduce new tourist attractions to build on the momentum of the IRs, Singapore Flyer and new events like the Formula One race, he adds.


The lake district is a candidate with its buzz and brand-new image, he reckons


Jurong GRC MP Grace Fu says her residents are excited about the overhaul. ‘The commercial development around Jurong East MRT will bring more jobs and economic opportunities to the area.’


Adds Mrs Fu, also the Senior Minister of State for National Development: ‘The hotels and family resorts will also give that added touch of vibrancy and glamour.”


Desirable homes


HER fellow MP in Jurong, Dr Ong Chit Chung, also cites jobs and adds: ‘Residents can easily access attractions from their doorstep. People from neighbouring areas such as Hong Kah, Bukit Batok and Jurong West will visit by MRT.


‘Housing along the lake will be very desirable.”


The plan to transform Jurong is anchored in the bigger story of the URA’s drive to spread business and jobs beyond the city, and to grow the national economy.


At another level of detail, the plans for Jurong mesh with URA ideals to deepen identity and to proliferate parks and water features island-wide.


This future Jurong is a world apart from the days when the swampland was dubbed ‘Goh’s Folly”.


In the early 1960s, Dr Goh Keng Swee, Singapore’s economic architect, flagged his idea of creating a prime industrial estate there.


Mr Ngiam Tong Dow observes with a smile: ‘Goh’s Folly is now Goh’s Blessing.’ The pioneer policymaker was designated the Estate Officer for Jurong in the 1960s, when he worked at the Economic Development Board.


In a sense, the lake district is a fulfilment – and refinement – of Dr Goh’s vision.


Its eco-city aspects, lush greenery and natural beauty now and in future have their roots in Dr Goh’s concepts.


Mr Ngiam says even in those austere days, Dr Goh had an eye for the environment. ‘He said Jurong is an industrial city and the skies will be grey all day long. He said we ought to have a spot or little oasis where the workers can go out and look at the birds.


‘And that’s how the Jurong Bird Park started.’


So Jurong has its charms too.


Mrs Fu says residents have an affection for ‘Yuhua’ – the name of the Chinese Garden in Mandarin and also the name of her Yuhua ward.


It is the ‘softer appeal’ of Jurong that moves her. She highlights her friendly, down-to-earth residents, and the hours she spent ice-skating at Fuji Ice Palace with her children.


The hope is that a thousand such little, familiar emblems of Old Jurong will not change too much during the revamp.







Place to live, work, play


THE plan is to make the Jurong Lake District a desirable address, a global workplace rich in jobs, and a new playground in the west.


It will be a place to live, work and play.


The new appeal will be anchored in a bundle of ideas, such as:


Maximising Jurong Lake: A new waterway will be carved out, bringing the serene water closer to the future Jurong Gateway, the commercial heart.


A third garden-island will be created. It will house an intimate ‘village’ of boutique hotels and places to chill out.


New Singapore Science Centre and family fun: The Science Centre will move to the lakefront, expand and bring learning outdoors. It anchors other edutainment centres for families.


Jurong Gateway jobs and more: Singapore’s biggest commercial hub outside the city will bring jobs to the doorsteps of residents. Located around the Jurong East MRT station – which has open land – it will have a mix of office, retail, residential, hotel, entertainment, and food and beverage uses.


Lush greenery: The sense of being close to nature will be heightened with landscaped gardens, park connectors, green elevated walkways and sky-gardens on buildings. It is an eco-city in itself.


Image overhaul: It is a move from grey to gracious. The area will morph from being the birthplace of Singapore’s industrialisation and a symbol of survival to a distinctive place with global and local appeal.


More appeal is ahead. An Urban Redevelopment Authority official says the lake district will also be a test-bed for ‘fun technology’ but was not ready to disclose details.


Source: Straits Times

Split property sales commission in two parts

Split property sales commission in two parts


IT IS heartening to learn that the court dispute between PropNex and Mr and Mrs Loh Yi Min has been settled amicably.


We can learn something from this incident. When a property agent undertakes work for either the seller or the buyer or both, he does it for a remuneration. It is therefore only correct that the type of work to be carried out by the property agent be properly described in the document most property agents require their clients to sign before he starts work. The document is often called the commission agreement and it records how the property agent is to be remunerated.


The Housing Board conducts public briefings on:


·  Policies and procedures relating to buying and selling of flats;


·  Financial planning for buyers and procedure for HDB and bank loan; and


·  Option to purchase.


According to the HDB, it invites a guest speaker from the CPF Board to talk about use of CPF funds to buy resale flats. The next talk for which seats are still available is on July 5.


For more information, visit sg, Home Owners, Selling Your Flat, HDB Resale Seminar.


Given that the HDB makes public the requirements in the resale process, the role of the property agent can be limited to connecting the seller and the buyer if the two parties handle the documentation themselves.


Perhaps the remuneration, often fixed at 2 per cent of the agreed price for the seller and 1 per cent for the buyer, can be broken into two distinct components:


·  The first, which can be percentage-based, is for connecting the parties and arranging the best price for either party; and


·  The second is for handling documentation, attending appointments and reminding parties of their obligations.


In that way, even if the buyer has to pay the property agent, he is clear that he is paying for services that are not related to getting him the best price, if the property agent also represents the seller in the same transaction.


Patrick Sio


Source: Straits Times