S’pore-listed REITs trading below price targets set by analysts

S’pore-listed REITs trading below price targets set by analysts

 

SINGAPORE: Amid the market turmoil in the past half year, Singapore-listed real estate investment trusts, or REITs, have been under pressure. They are now trading below their 12-month price targets set by analysts.

 

However, market-watchers said that they are optimistic REITs have not lost their appeal among investors and they expect the REITs sector to keep growing.

 

It’s been a honeymoon period since the first REIT was launched in Asia in 2001. Investors in the region, including Singapore, caught on, seeing these trusts as a good play on the property sector.

 

But now, some investors said that REITs may have had their day in the sun, having dropped more than 15 per cent in value since last year.

 

Still, there are others who argue that the sell-off was overdone.

 

Todd Canter, CEO, LaSalle Investment Management Securities, said: “We think the sector traded off more than was justified. And in fact today, if you look at overall borrowing costs, which was the main concern for the stocks trading off, borrowing costs for the REITs remain essentially unchanged from the beginning of 2007.”

 

Some market-watchers said that a combination of a correction in the REITs market, plus the impact of the sub-prime crisis in the US, is unlikely to affect the performance of REITs in the long run.

 

They are positive that fundamentals continue to be relatively good for most real estate companies around the world. They are confident REITs will continue to be attractive to investors despite the current cyclical correction in the REITs market.

 

Chris Reilly, Director of Property, Asia, Henderson Global Investors, said: “Even though it’s seen less interest than it has in the last couple of years when the market was healthier, it still has been very defensive. It’s been more defensive than property stocks in the last year to date. So, I think, obviously that still has a place within investor portfolios.”

 

Their advice to investors when considering REITs is to look at the quality of the management and underlying assets.

 

Peter Mitchell, CEO, Asian Public Real Estate Association, said: “The thing we have to remember about REITs is that they are a proxy for holding real estate directly. And the underlying real estate markets throughout Asia, the fundamentals of those markets remain very strong.”

 

Among the REITs in Singapore seen holding up well are those tied to the office property sector. Some industry watchers said rising office rentals will continue to boost the performance of these trusts.

 

Retail and logistics REITs are also expected to perform well. – CNA/vm

 

Source: Channel NewsAsia

JTC to apply cost-savings features to attract more wafer fab plants

JTC to apply cost-savings features to attract more wafer fab plants

 

SINGAPORE : Industrial developer and landlord JTC Corporation is planning to attract more wafer fab companies into Singapore by building cost-savings features into new wafer fab clusters.

 

It is looking at implementing a centralised power and water plant in each wafer fab cluster, which could help companies save hundreds of thousands of dollars in operational costs.

 

Wafer fab plants are heavy utility users. Currently, each production plant has its very own power unit that provides clean chilled water, specialty gases and waste treatment for its operations.

 

Heah Sooh Poh, Director, Specialised Parks Development Group, JTC Corporation, said: “So if you have a park, and you have four or five companies, then you’ll have four or five such small little plants within the companies’ premises itself.”

 

To save space in land scarce Singapore, JTC plans to centralise all such functions into a “Multi-Purpose Utilities Service Provision Model”. What that means is sharing one common water and electricity generating unit among by all the wafer fab plants in one cluster.

 

JTC said the model is already implemented in petrochemical plants on Jurong Island, as well as in the biomedical industry. It said the shared utilities plant would be outsourced to a third party provider, leaving companies to concentrate on wafer fab production.

 

The move is expected to help companies shave off more than 40 percent in overall utility costs – based on the savings by companies using a centralised cooling system.

 

Heah said: “In terms of capital costs to the wafer fab companies, they do not have to put in the investment to build up such utility plants. The other one is really manpower costs, in terms of maintenance.

 

“The plant would be more competitive compared to those that don’t enjoy the savings. This would either translate into better margins for them, (or) they could actually reduce the margins, and still make very good profits. So I think that’s the advantage to the wafer fab companies.”

 

JTC said it is already in discussions with upcoming wafer fab plants in Singapore on implementing the system. It expects to call for tenders for a third party utilities and power provider before mid-2009.

 

JTC expects the application to be fully implemented in the next three years, starting with the North Coast Wafer Fab Park in Senoko. There are plans to extend it to other wafer fab clusters – like those in Woodlands, Pasir Ris and Tampines.

 

The latest plans come as JTC celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.

 

There are currently 14 wafer fab plants in Singapore, slightly more than half of the 25 that the country targets to have. – CNA/ms

 

Source: Channel NewsAsia

Soilbuild wins tender to build, own and operate stack-up factory

Soilbuild wins tender to build, own and operate stack-up factory

 

SINGAPORE : Niche property developer Soilbuild Group has won the tender to build, own and operate a stack-up factory in the Tuas area.

 

The award for the 5-hectare site at Tanjong Kling Industrial Estate was given out by JTC Corporation.

 

This is the first time that a stack-up factory development has been awarded to a private developer.

 

The development will add some 1.4 million square feet of business space to Soilbuild’s portfolio, taking its total pipeline to 3.3 million square feet of lettable space.

 

JTC said Soilbuild clinched the contract because its concept included enhanced features such as a basement carpark to segregate heavy and light vehicular traffic, and a layout that facilitates a smooth heavy vehicular movement within the building.

 

The new Tanjong Kling development, expected to be completed in early 2010, comes with a gross plot ratio of up to 2.5.

 

To meet the needs of the larger industrialists, the stipulated minimum floor area per unit for the development is 1,000 square metres.

 

The concept of stacking-up factories was first introduced eight years ago at Woodlands in a bid to optimise land use.

 

A robust growth in the manufacturing sector has fuelled an increase in demand for industrial space in the last three years. – CNA/ms

 

Source: Channel NewsAsia

Shophouses up for sale in Kampong Glam

Shophouses up for sale in Kampong Glam 

 

 

A row of freehold shophouses in the Kampong Glam area has been put up for sale by tender.

 

The shophouses sit on a 7,400 square foot site which is currently occupied by a single tenant.

 

Under the 2003 Master Plan, the property is zoned for commercial use.

 

Executive Director of investment sales at Colliers International, Ho Eng Joo, said the indicative price of the property is about 10 million dollars.

 

Source: 938Live

New HDB flats priced too high

New HDB flats priced too high

 

I READ with interest news on the Housing Board website on the new build-to-order (BTO) projects launched in Punggol and Sengkang.

 

However, I am astounded by the high prices of the four- and five-room flats. The five-room premium flats in the Punggol Sapphire BTO project are selling at between $330,000 and $400,000. These prices are comparable to the new flats on sale in mature estates just two years ago.

 

They cost almost $100,000 more, or an almost 50per cent jump, than similar flats in Punggol just two to three years ago.

 

By pricing the units so high, is HDB not further stoking the inflationary trend of home prices?

 

Ho Koon Woei

 

Source: Straits Times

Hostel was among best here

Hostel was among best here

 

EVEN the international students studying at tertiary institutes here are unhappy with their accommodation at Katong Hostel.

 

02 June 2008

 

EVEN the international students studying at tertiary institutes here are unhappy with their accommodation at Katong Hostel.

 

The hostel was a finalist for the category of Best Host for International Students Studying in Singapore, at the Singapore Education Awards 2008 held in March, the Singapore Tourism Board told The New Paper on Sunday.

 

The students, who share rooms with one to three others in the Tanjong Katong Road hostel, all asked that their full names not be revealed.

 

One hostelite said her triple-sharing room is cockroach-infested. She pays about $300 a month to stay there.

 

The 28-year-old student, who wanted to be known only as Cynthia, said: ‘In the five months I have been here, there are always cockroaches in the toilets, and rats running outside our rooms at night.’

 

Another student, 29, who asked that her name not be revealed, said that she has been paying $390 a month to put up at a dorm at Pearl’s Hill in Chinatown, also managed by Katong Hostel, since April.

 

She claimed she has found rats and cockroaches in the compound there, and has been bitten by bedbugs. She showed us photos of the bites on her.

 

She said she had complained to the management and the mattress was changed.

 

Miss Joyce Sim from Katong Hostel said that she had not heard of any complaints of rats or cockroaches at either hostels.

 

‘We have professional cleaners to clean the outside areas. Students have the responsibility to keep their rooms clean.’

 

Miss Sim also claimed that the pest control workers go to the hostels every 10 days.

 

On the problem of bedbugs, she said this was due to the students’ personal hygiene.

 

 

Source: The New Paper

Work hard, play hard

Work hard, play hard

 

Is the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Leisure Plan a good idea? What do you like most about it and what would you change or add?

 

Tan Tiong Cheng

Managing Director

Knight Frank

 

URA has cleverly crafted the Leisure Plan by turning our weaknesses into strengths. We are a small island limited by physical size. Yet when fully developed, we will have a 150km route for joggers and cyclists, 4,200ha of parks connected by a web of 300km tracks, and 24/7 urban entertainment and lifestyle hotspots. We are a city – yet the countryside of farms and marshes is at the door-step. I am impressed that every square centimetre of land is fully utilised. Perhaps the only area left out of the Leisure Plan is the Southern Islands of Kusu, Lazarus, Seringat, Sisters and St John. The Leisure Plan will meet the needs of citizens, residents and visitors. It is a strategic piece of the jigsaw puzzle to make Singapore a unique place to live, work and play. The vision and objectives are bold and I look forward to its implementation.

 

CONVENIENT, ACCESSIBLE

 

Pauline Goh

Managing Director

CB Richard Ellis

 

THE tripling of the existing park connector network is timely as Singapore matures as a cosmopolitan city with the influx of a diverse range of expatriates, a large number of whom hail from cities with a love of the great outdoors.

 

The round-the-island path incorporating Marina Bay will inject a breath of fresh air to the dense concrete landscape of the Central Business District. This green network will offer convenient venue options for corporate sporting events, which have increasingly become popular. Outdoor activities will now be immediately accessible to office workers, who need not spend additional time commuting to recreational activities.

 

Glenn Tan

CEO

Motor Image Enterprises

 

THIS Leisure Plan is an ambitious move to extend URA’s Live, Work and Play concept beyond the city centre into neighbourhoods. With this decentralisation, people can truly live, work and play in closer proximity, reducing travel time to allow for more productive time, be it at work or play. This uniform distribution of commercial, residential and leisure facilities to outlying areas will provide much-needed relief from city centre congestion woes and ease the pressure on our transport system, as well as property prices in prime areas. This plan shows tremendous foresight in terms of enhancing the quality of life, with something for everyone – land or marine activities, serious sportsmen, the young and the elderly. I am delighted that it takes a holistic approach to leisure and recreation, rather than just exercise or fitness.

 

However, we must ensure that we retain the original charm and characteristics of each of these neighbourhood areas. Be it Orchard Road or Kallang Riverside, I am keen to see how URA intends to ‘carve out destinations with distinctive character’. This plan signals a new era for Singapore. I am excited that we are finally getting serious about having fun.

 

T Chandroo

Chairman/CEO

Modern Montessori International (MMI) Group

 

KUDOS to URA for putting forth a propitious proposal – especially in tandem with the IR developments – that will potentially shape our image as a world-class home for work and play. The Leisure Plan could not have been conceptualised at a more opportune time. In the foreseeable future, Singaporeans from all walks of life will be able to partake in accessible recreational activities that promise plenty of interaction with nature. Bearing in mind our ageing population, though, these state-of-the-art amenities should ideally be retrofitted to cater for the elderly, as well as the physically handicapped, so everyone can enjoy them.

 

FUN GLOBAL CITY

 

Derek Goh

Executive Chairman/Group CEO

Serial System

 

THE Leisure Plan is another hallmark of Singapore as a First World country. It is very timely – with the completion of the two IRs in 2010 and the hosting of the Inaugural Youth Olympic Games in 2010 – for Singapore to turn into a fun global city state to work and live in. It’s uniquely Singapore indeed.

 

The Leisure Plan like the Land Transport Master Plan are long-term projects capable of generating growth and development for the next 10 to 15 years. More emphasis should be placed on nightlife and night attractions. More late-night recreation, shopping and eateries should be established to cater to tourists and shift workers. Late-night pricing can be more attractive to retain the shoppers, diners and movie goers. Even places of worship can be open at night to ease the congestion during the weekends.

 

I am confident that Singapore can be the City that never Sleeps.

 

R Theyvendran

Chairman/Managing Director

Stamford Media International Group of Companies

 

URA’s first Leisure Plan should be applauded – and encouraged. Just as economic success and growth does not come about without planning and sustained effort, so too the creation of a liveable, loveable and fun city.

 

As URA and other agencies have pointed out, there should be more varied and quality leisure options round-the-clock for everyone.

 

The aim is to create a healthy lifestyle – a balanced combination of ‘work and play’. Bringing parks closer to homes and the 150-km round-the-island route for joggers and cyclists are marvellous ideas. Creating must-see, crowd-pulling destinations, including unique waterways and sports facilities, are well thought-out projects.

 

Such recreational facilities will reduce the level of stress and enable greater interaction and understanding between the vast majority of Singaporeans. Greater family and communal bonding can be nurtured.

 

On the practical side, the opportunity cost of the nation’s limited land will be an issue – since there will be less land for housing, offices and other purposes.

 

Berthold Trenkel

Chief Operating Officer, Asia Pacific

Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT)

 

URA’s Leisure Plan is a great initiative that recognises the war for talent is not just happening at company level but at country level. Enhancing Singapore’s lifestyle value is vital if we are to attract and retain talent, which in turn will help businesses stay competitive. As a Singapore PR, I am thrilled by the prospects and ideas the new plan offers – and cannot wait to see the results.

 

HOTFOOT IT

 

Lim Soon Hock

Managing Director

PLAN-B ICAG Pte Ltd

 

IT is a brilliant idea. It marks a milestone in the government’s efforts to reshape and re-invent Singapore. I wish the Leisure Plan had been announced earlier, at the turn of the millennium. I hope the government can accelerate the implementation of the Leisure Plan, given its merits and benefits.

 

I like the plan for its holistic approach and the careful thought given to have the proposed developments distributed throughout the island. Some could have been developed earlier – for example, the 150-km round-the-island route for cyclists and joggers. As Singapore is an island, I would have thought it is an obvious thing for our planners to exploit the kaleidoscopic play of land and sea along the coastline to create a scenic and breathtaking circuit. I drove along the near round-the-island coastal road in Hawaii in the 1980s, and until this day I still remember the exhilarating experience. Perhaps our 150-km track can be expanded or redesigned to cater to driving as well?

 

The multi-billion-dollar budget set aside for the Leisure Plan shows the government is serious about creating an enjoyable and rejuvenating playground for the benefit of all Singaporeans. The plan appears to be wholesome both in quantity and quality, unlike other half-hearted attempts related to previous developments. In contemporary Singapore, where many of us work longer hours than before, I like the plan most for the myriad opportunities offered to families to spend quality time together for bonding and to enjoy one another at their own time and pace. Hence my earlier call to bring forward the implementation of the plan.

 

If there is one difficulty, it is our hot and humid weather. If only we could air-condition our entire island, Singapore would be paradise.

 

Liu Chunlin

CEO

K&C Protective Technologies Pte Ltd

 

WE like the Leisure Plan with its greater choices and balance between city entertainment and outdoor leisure. It was not too long ago that Singapore was criticised as a successful but boring place, attested by people from overseas coming here to work. But things have changed and are changing, through the likes of the F1, Youth Olympics and now the Leisure Plan. I believe we can be cosmopolitan like New York, Paris and London, even if we are not as big.

 

I have a few suggestions. One is a quicker pace of implementation. Just as the transport system is under pressure, leisure infrastructure will be too. We see overcrowded shopping centres at weekends. We can also create greater ‘space’ by having free wireless access along leisure networks, to compensate for scarce land.

 

While the government can lay the leisure infrastructure, it should allow greater spontaneity in the ‘software’ part. I know that in a small place like Singapore, rules are often needed to regulate public space, but let us be prepared for a loosening up. The software part will allow operators and users greater leeway in leisure activities as long as they do not use this at the expense of others.

 

New towns are potentially a great asset in terms of leisure activities. But I think our new towns are too homogeneous though they are most accessible. The same type of facilities and shops can be found in every estate. Why not create towns with unique character so they are interesting to visit. We need to break out of the idea that public housing estates need to be standardised from an administration point of view.

 

A BOOST FOR LIFESTYLE

 

Charles Reed

CEO

DoCoMo interTouch

 

SINGAPORE has done an excellent job of providing all age groups with a wide range of leisure options. From the main shopping districts to the heartlands, there is no lack of entertainment malls, parks and community centres.

 

The Leisure Plan is an excellent initiative to provide individuals with another way of taking time off their busy schedules and achieve an even better work-life balance.

 

With the launch of the new 9-km scenic walk on the Henderson Wave and the Alexandra Arch, Singapore is strengthening its position as a world-class city with a high standard of living and a strong focus on the population’s health and wellbeing. Such initiatives not only benefit residents but also attract talent and foreign investment.

 

Moving forward, URA could look into hosting more international events, like the annual Carnevale di Venezia in Italy, to enhance the success of the Leisure Plan and provide Singaporeans with more entertainment options.

 

David Hope

VP and Regional MD, Asia & Japan

Lawson Software

 

I AM very excited by the Leisure Plan. It will help improve the overall quality of life, promote healthy living and provide options and choices for residents and visitors. I am particularly pleased by the planned 150km round-the-island route for cyclists and joggers, more green spaces and more water and sports facilities. I have been advocating the need to extend cycling tracks in Singapore for some time to offer a safer, more healthy and non-polluting mode of transport. The key is to do this properly and make it a world-class facility. By that, I mean building a fully inter-connected cycling track with connecting paths and no dead-ends, steps, barriers or other obstacles that sometimes exist on cycling tracks (such as bridges that start and end with steps). Hopefully, we will eventually see a track that is connected with underpass or overpass options at all roads, and not just the sharing of narrow footpaths. I am confident that with proper planning this could be world-class in every respect and would be very well used. The safety aspects of having extensive dedicated cycling tracks will encourage more families to take up cycling, which benefits everybody.

 

Dhirendra Shantilal

Senior Vice-President, Asia Pacific

Kelly Services

 

SINGAPORE is recognised as a country with an excellent quality of life, efficient world-class infrastructure, public safety and a multi-faceted effectively bilingual talent pool – all major selling points for attracting and retaining valuable talent and foreign investment.

 

The continued development of Singapore’s attractiveness as a city to work, play and live is impressive and commendable. In URA’s Leisure Plan, there are now more recreational avenues available all over Singapore for all demographic groups.

 

Organisations in Singapore can support various initiatives to enhance the quality of life for our people through sponsorships, setting up leisure and sports-related enterprises and partnerships and supporting environmental projects and programmes as part of corporate social responsibility.

 

It is also critical to continue to invest in our people, as our future economic growth and quality of life are closely tied to this investment.

 

While education and training are important to equip our people with the necessary knowledge and skills, organisations and employers must also foster a culture that supports work-life balance – to improve employee health and well-being, improve productivity and enhance overall quality of life.

 

OTHERS

 

Lars Ronning

President, Asia Pacific (excluding China and Japan)

Tandberg

 

THE Leisure Plan tackles the pressing issues of protecting the environment while making sure growth is sustainable.

 

It is commendable that the plan takes into consideration agri-tainment, arts entertainment spaces, as well as where to house industrial development. But URA needs also to keep in mind the preservation of cultural icons and spaces. Preservation of The Arts House (former parliament house) is a great example, which should be replicated insofar as preserving old-world charm in metropolitan Singapore.

 

On a different note, this new plan needs to be coupled with accurate data and transparent administration – factors for which Singapore has become renowned. That way, good governance and economic growth might prove a solution in achieving sustainable growth and at the same time protecting the environment.

 

Dora Hoan

Group CEO

Best World International Ltd

 

URBAN planning is never more needed than in Singapore due to scarce land and dense population. It becomes critical to maximise the use of land efficiently while equitably serving the greatest number of people. The URA Leisure Plan is a most welcome development as we try to make Singapore a modern yet liveable place. Adding leisure elements will increase the value of residential and commercial properties and develop centres that provide for increased social interaction and thereby give rise to the development of new businesses and more services due to higher potential returns.

 

We must pause to examine how liveability can be defined. And in doing so, we must see to it that it is analysed through a framework of indicators such as economic, environmental, cultural, democratic and social considerations. The plan must uplift the quality of life for our people and be fun and exciting in a manner that will also not detract or encroach on a community’s historical charm. As for businesses, we ought to be conscious of notions of corporate citizenship and corporate social responsibility relevant to enhancing liveability. A Leisure Plan will be good in so far as it encourages harmony in diversity – providing a range of cultural, community and educational services as well as business and retail activities to complete it.

 

Source: Business Times

JTC exploring waterfront shared facility

JTC exploring waterfront shared facility

Move to optimise use driven by scarce industrial waterfront land for marine, oil & gas sectors

 

 

By EMILYN YAP

 

 

(SINGAPORE) With the shortage of industrial waterfront land keenly felt in Singapore, JTC Corporation is exploring the creation of a shared waterfront facility at Tuas View for firms in the marine and oil and gas sectors.

 

 

To optimise the use of waterfront land, JTC is ‘looking into ways to masterplan a waterfront facility that can be shared by these users’, a JTC spokesperson told BT.

 

Inspiration came from the common jetty facility which the leisure marine industry in Brisbane, Australia, uses. JTC is in the preliminary stages of a feasibility study to adapt the concept for industrial uses.

 

To create more usable industrial waterfront land, JTC is also exploring the feasibility of increasing the depth of waters around Tuas View.

 

‘JTC is aware that there is a high demand for waterfront land by SMEs for the loading and unloading of goods, and by the marine and offshore engineering companies for their manufacturing operations,’ the spokesperson said.

 

Many companies located on waterfront land at Tuas today have their own waterfront facilities for the building of ships, oil equipment and other activities. With the growth of the marine and oil and gas industries, demand for waterfront land looks set to outstrip supply.

 

‘Since last year, we have received a number of enquiries from marine-related companies looking to lease or purchase industrial facilities with waterfront space in the Gul Basin and Benoi Basin areas for their expansion needs,’ said Bernard Goh, director of industrial services at CB Richard Ellis. ‘But there is a shortage of such supply in the market.’

 

A marketing executive with a marine company at Tuas also told BT that ‘we would like to expand, but there is not enough waterfront land to do so’.

 

In fact, Knight Frank’s head of industrial business space Lim Kien Kim reckoned that ‘with the impending redevelopment of Loyang Offshore Supply Base, Tuas seems to be the only location to meet immediate needs – it has the land infrastructure and a ‘sheltered’ bay with good water depth’.

 

Loyang Offshore Supply Base houses close to 200 oil and gas services-related companies. One firm told BT that it is in final discussions to purchase waterfront land overseas, partly because of the lack of suitable sites in Singapore.

 

Data on the size of waterfront land at Tuas was unavailable from JTC. For land in the Tuas region, JTC charges a land rent of $10.01 to $16.93 per square metre (psm) per annum, or an upfront premium of $164 to $345 psm on a 30-year lease. Waterfront sites in Jurong command an additional waterfrontage fee of $594 to $891 per metre run per annum.

 

‘JTC would be on the right track to meeting industry demand,’ said Mr Goh of the plans to increase waterfront land. ‘However, more in-depth study may be needed for the shared waterfront facility’ to accommodate the different needs and time schedules of various businesses, he added.

 

Source: Business Times

Tuan Sing seeks stake in Katong Mall

Tuan Sing seeks stake in Katong Mall

 

By ARTHUR SIM

 

 

 

TUAN Sing Holdings, which is looking to divest its hotel assets, is seeking a stake in Katong Mall, which was put up for collective sale last week.

 

 

In a statement released over the weekend, Tuan Sing said that it is looking to dispose of $107 million in loans it had extended to its associate Gul Technologies Singapore (Gul Tech) through an asset swap with the controlling shareholders of Tuan Sing for certain strata units in Katong Mall.

 

The asset swap will involve 129 strata shop units at Katong Mall with an aggregate purchase consideration of about $63.1 million. This was arrived at based on the aggregate value of the properties of $130.1 million, representing 70 per cent of the open market value of Katong Mall, but less outstanding borrowings of $66 million and rental deposits and advance rental of about $1 million, which will be retained by the vendors.

 

The purchase consideration will be satisfied by Tuan Sing and certain of its subsidiaries novating the Gul Tech loans in favour of the vendors of the Katong Mall units, which are companies under the controlling shareholders of Tuan Sing. This is subject to a $44 million loan waiver by the controlling shareholders.

 

Tuan Sing said that the proposed assets swap would be beneficial as it allows the company to secure a ‘realistic and tangible recovery of the loans, albeit that Tuan Sing would have to recognise a partial write-down of the loans’.

 

It will also transform Gul Tech’s equity from a negative to a positive net asset position with the controlling shareholders waiving about $44 million of the loans.

 

Tuan Sing said that it had already made provisions for the loans in prior years, and estimated that the net effect of the partial writedown on equity is about $0.7 million.

 

The company also said that it planned to dispose of its 50 per cent held hotel assets worth about A$615 million (S$799 million) to third parties as and when opportunities arise.

 

Tuan Sing will hold two separate extraordinary general meetings on June 16, 2008, to seek shareholders’ mandate for the two transactions.

 

Source: Business Times

What good is a leisure island if we have no time to enjoy it?

What good is a leisure island if we have no time to enjoy it? 

 

YouthInk writers share their thoughts on the URA Master Plan unveiled recently

 

 

 

Too busy for leisure

 

THE proposed plan to turn the nation into a ‘leisure island’ is a laudable effort by the Government to encourage Singaporeans to spend more time with their family.

 

However, its aims seem unrealistic in work-obsessed Singapore.

 

Consider an average family of two parents and two children: The rising costs of living make it necessary for both parents to work and family time is at a premium.

 

While the five-day work week has gone some way to create more family time, 49per cent of Singaporeans still feel that their work hours are too long, according to a 2006 AC Nielsen survey.

 

Children are similarly faced with stressful and long school timetables – and this is before factoring in co-curricular activities and homework. Even during the holidays, they have to go back to school for extra lessons.

 

Leisure has a decreasing place in the lives of an average Singaporean family. What is the use of new leisure facilities if people are too busy to enjoy them?

 

Instead of simply adding to infrastructure, the Government should look into practical ways to ease its citizens’ costs and burdens of living so that the ‘leisure island’ can be enjoyed by its citizens and not simply by tourists.

 

Practical gestures, such as subsidies on food or public transport, may prove more welcome to the masses than a new park.

 

 

Ng Yi Xun, 19, is a third-year student at the Millennia Institute

 

 

 

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Cycle in the city

 

GIVEN the scale and high cost of implementing the Urban Redevelopment Authority Master Plan, it should go beyond just providing more leisure options.

 

For example, rather than limiting cycling lanes to the parks, why not extend them into the city? This will provide a more comprehensive land-usage plan and allow more destinations to be accessible by bicycle.

 

Currently, such cycling lanes do not exist and cyclists have to either travel on pedestrian paths or brave heavy traffic on the roads, often at great personal risk.

 

Cities such as Amsterdam, Paris and London have such lanes in place, which allow cyclists to navigate the roads safely and also enjoy scenic trips through parks.

 

The authorities in these cities see cycling as a cheap and practical way to travel around the city. It is also in line with their efforts to reduce traffic congestion in city centres and introduce more eco-friendly modes of transportation.

 

As we seek to improve our quality of life, perhaps building cycling lanes in select districts here as a trial will be a good start.

 

 

Kenny Tan, 22, is a second-year economics student at the Singapore Management University (SMU)

 

 

 

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Green step forward

 

WITH temperatures hitting a scorching 34 deg C two weeks ago, I doubt many would venture outdoors. Health considerations are another concern – an example being the recurring haze.

 

Nonetheless, credit has to be given to the urban planners for creating more recreational options for citizens. They could have taken the easy way out and just built another mall, reinforcing our nation’s favourite pastime – shopping.

 

This leisure plan could be part of a larger green movement to promote environmentalism.

 

Our very own Central Park will counter the urban city sprawl and reduce the nation’s carbon footprint, providing both aesthetic and functional appeal.

 

More parks will improve air quality, serve as buffers against sweltering temperatures and provide an avenue for people to lead more active and healthier lives.

 

In the quest for environmental protection, however, global and regional efforts are just as important as individual efforts.

 

Take the haze, for example. No amount of greenery created here can fully counter its negative effects without regional cooperation.

 

This is the inconvenient truth many choose not to face.

 

 

Chew Zhi Wen, 21, has a place to read law and economics at the National University of Singapore

 

 

 

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Go natural

 

LEISURE parks here need not necessarily have to be man-made.

 

We can embrace what we already have, Singapore’s surrounding islands – Kusu, St John’s, Sisters and Pulau Ubin.

 

Getting away from the concrete jungle is one of the most refreshing things one can do.

 

These islands are full of history and serenity. Singaporeans get the chance to enjoy the boat ride, clean air and, of course, fresh seafood.

 

The authorities should keep Singaporeans abreast of current developments on some of these islands.

 

In addition, they could enhance existing attractions on the islands by including hiking and walking trails, or offering ranger services.

 

These add value to time away from the city and also encourage a healthy lifestyle and an appreciation for Singapore’s history.

 

Heighten the awareness of these islands to provide Singaporeans with more options to relax and enjoy life away from the fast lane.

 

 

Tabitha Mok, 21, is a fourth-year medical student at the University of Western Australia

 

 

 

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Something for all

 

A SUCCESSFUL ‘leisure plan’ should ideally have activities that would appeal to a spectrum of personalities, from the quiet nature lover to the extroverted clubber.

 

This way, people may think twice about spending too much time chasing material comforts and consider slowing down their pace of living.

 

A slower pace allows citizens to note and appreciate the intangibles in life and this improves their non-material quality of life.

 

Happy employees put more effort into work, happier families provide moral support and motivation for tired workers.

 

A slower pace could also prolong one’s stamina to work and retire later.

 

Arguably, a higher non-material quality of life could boost economic productivity.

 

I hope we won’t be so caught up in the rat race to not realise that.

 

 

Owen Yeo, 20, has a place to read social sciences at SMU

 

 

 

Source: Straits Times