Call me naive.. or subversive

… but there are three recent developments in Singapore that flummoxed moi. 😆

Take the latest first.

I refer to the victory achieved by the minority dissenting owners to kill the en bloc sale of the Thomson View condo.

The judge threw out the sale, already cleared by 80% of the owners, because the property agents handling the deal had paid a few owners out of their potential commission to sign the deal and achieve the tipping point. They even paid the return airfare for one owner to come back to Singapore from the Netherlands to sign.

I personally don’t see what’s so wrong for the agents to induce the last few critical owners to sign.

Conflict of interest?

Only if the payment came out of the sale price (après commission) of the property and thereby has the effect of eating into the total sum paid to owners who didn’t need inducement.

Only if once the consent to sell is achieved, the agents then sell the property at prices below what could be reasonably fetched on the open market in order for them to close the sale and collect their commission.

But this would be unlikely as all en bloc agreements have minimum price clauses included. In any case, it won’t benefit the agents to sell at a fire sale price since their commission would be a % of the price achieved. The lower the price, the smaller their commission.

Of course there could be suspicion that agents who induce critical stragglers to sign have hidden agendas, such as selling the property below its true value and then collecting kick backs from the buyer.

But as pointed out earlier if there is a realistic and market sensitive reserve price, fire sales are unlikely.

If under-table shenanigans are discovered then of course the agents and their co-conspirators should be dealt with to the full extent of the law. Send them to jail and throw away the key!

This wasn’t the case with Thomson View. Hopefully, our law enforcers would in future see that there are inducements which are practical, legal and ethical and those that aren’t.

Which brings me to the 2nd development: curtailing the privilege of alumni from elite primary schools sending their kids to their parents or grandparents’ alma mater.

In my view, all alumni should retain their priority registration intact. These schools should open their doors to those with no alumni connection only if and when their alumni have got all the places they need for their offspring.

Unfair to children not blessed with such well-connected parents?


If every school in SG is a good school, then let kids without parental connections go to those which have as yet to grow such a network.

If not every school is a good school, then MOE should hot-house those schools that have, for whatever reason, been unable to build up cohorts of loyal alumni. But not disrupt the prioritised inflow of schools that have already built their alumni families of multi-generations!

To prevent inbreeding and infuse new blood? Let that come naturally via any unfilled places left over annually or let the affected schools find their own solution, not have it imposed by fiat by the Government.

Unfair to those without parental connections?

Well, no more unfair than it is for those who own HDB homes being allowed to buy and continue to buy private property. Whereas those who own private property no longer have the reverse privilege to buy HDB, even when such buyers were confined to the resale unsubsidised HDB market, in days when the rules were different.

By contrast, most of those who own HDB have already had one or several bites of the state’s subsidy-cherry. Yet they continue to enjoy the privilege of buying private, while holding onto heavily subsidised assets.

How much unfairer can things get, you tell me!

Since the presumably better off are handicapped in the housing market, is it so outrageous then that the presumably less advantaged be somewhat left out in the cold when it comes to schooling in brand name primary schools?

While I believe in a more equal and inclusive society, I don’t believe that to achieve such equality G should level up one segment of Singaporeans while having policies that level down the presumed better connected and better off 🙄

In any case, if Singapore truly wants to build tradition, encourage real appreciation of heritage, continuity and community bonding, then depriving some descendants of alumni from attending the schools of their forefathers is hardly the best route to achieve such ends.

This brings me to the curious case of famous surgeon Susan Lim and the fees she charged a deceased relative of the Sultan of Brunei.

So our courts and her peers have found and continue to find her fees to be exorbitant! Case closed!

But like I had said in an earlier post — — I don’t belong to the camps that condemn her.

This is because there is plenty of choice for medical treatment in SG and Dr Lim, like your rich and famous Kim Robinsons and Michelin starred chefs, should be free to impose ridiculous fees on those who have money to burn and seek brand-name service providers, be it doctor, hair dresser, cook or bottle washer.

Instead, the courts and medical fraternity’s indignation and ire should be directed at doctors who turn away patients who can’t pay — telling them to go to A&E or retaining prescribed medicine until they bring the full sum to pay for consultation and drugs!

Charging what your rich patient can very well bear isn’t about ethics. But not attending to a sick person because he doesn’t have the means to pay is!

Such wicked doctors don’t exist in SG? I wait to be convinced!

To conclude, I wish my self-righteous fellow citizens, including our judges, would direct their disapproval, better still anger, at things such as the strange metamorphosis of a tender for a $19.14million project by the Republic Polytechnic to develop an academic system.

After the deadline, the poly allowed a vendor to submit a revised proposal. Bad enough, right?

Worse! It was a substantial change from the original tender, says the Straits Times, citing the G’s Auditor General annual report which highlights cases of cavalier behaviour by those who handle our country’s coffers.

Worst! This substantial change wasn’t disclosed to the tender approving authority and believe it or not, the vendor who re-submitted got the contract.

I rest my case. And I don’t even wonder why there’s no Committee of Inquiry for all those scandalous cases involving our civil servants that run to millions of dollars or dozens of illicit occasions for cheap sex, often in car parks, for crying out loud! 😥

3 thoughts on “Call me naive.. or subversive

  1. En bloc sales under Land Titles (Strata) Act invokes majoritianism over private property rights. The tipping point is 80% consent once the estate is 10 years in age or older (90% consent if owners decide to en bloc and demolish one day after TOP issuance or up to the 10-year anniversary short of 1 day). Thomson View Property Agent paid extra to induce the remaining 4% to sign the CSA to hit tipping point nearing the expiry of Cinderella Hour (ie, 12 months from the date of first CSA signature). For almost 11 months, consent stood at 76%.

    Without crossing this 80% mark, the Developer-buyer would need to garner (A) 100% consent and (B) pay varying prices for each unit as per each owner’s negotiation skill or desperation to sell or determination to retain unit. That would be Good Old Free Market Forces at work – not this communalization of private property rights to force others into selling their family home (commonly bought with substantial CPF savings) at a time and at a price unacceptable to them.

  2. Dear flummoxed,
    Let me enlighten you about the necessity for integrity, honesty and transparency in a collective sale and why the bar has to be set high. Higher, say, than when buying/selling a car. We are talking about the appropriation of private property, family homes.

    Sneaky agents offering secret inducements under the table to subvert the LTSA in order to secure the 80% is at the very least unethical, at worse, illegal. It was necessary for the minority to bring the matter to High Court in order for legal ‘discovery’ to unearth these shady deals – deals hidden even from the sale committee.

    You condone such practice as if they were harmless – but to those who may eventually lose their homes, there is nothing harmless about it.

  3. IHTM n Pariah: note that my point was so long as the tipping point was achieved out of the agents’ pocket, it shouldn’t be an issue. Moreover, even if the tipping point were achieved as a result of inducing a select minority and not ALL the dissenting minority, the latter still could stymie the deal — as the feisty group at Thomson View has done.

    The dissenting minority and the G should spare a thought for the majority who want to get out at a good price to them. Otherwise, the tyranny of the minority could be applied to ever more areas of SG life, not necessarily to the good of all, or even the minority.

    Btw, I am delighted to have provided you both space and occasion to enlighten all on this en bloc sale saga which I am sure will be even longer running than the Taiwanese soap, Night Market! 🙄

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