THE TEMASEK TIMES

News and views from an unique perspective

Archive for August, 2018

83 year old aunty has to pay $120 licence fee to NEA to sell passport covers

Posted by temasektimes on August 31, 2018

Mdm Tan has been selling passport covers for many years just outside the Lavendar MRT station across ICA where we make our passports and identification card. While chatting with her, someone was bargaining over a $4 passport holder. She says occasionally some people will take without paying while some will give more without asking for change.

 

She was born in the year of “rat” (1936) and that makes her 83 years old. She has to pay an annual licence fee of $120 to NEA to be able to peddle her ware here. Despite this, she is a very jovial woman. So help support this aunty.

But… is this the future of Singaporeans? 😦

 

 

madamtanCredit: Allan Tang

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Vlogger Nas Daily: I am not paid to make positive videos on Singapore

Posted by temasektimes on August 31, 2018

Popular travel vlogger Nuseir Yassin, better known as Nas has posted a clarification on his Facebook page Nas Daily that he was not paid or sponsored by anybody to make “positive” videos on Singapore.

The widely travel vlogger who is famous for making one minute viral videos on the countries he visited has received brickbats from some Singaporeans on his “positive” depiction of Singapore which doesn’t quite reflect the reality on the ground.

nasdaily

Source: Nas Daily Facebook page

Defending himself on his Facebook page, Nas claimed that he spent his own money to make his own videos about Singapore:

“I’ve been seeing a lot of people online claiming that I am sponsored / paid to be here and make positive videos about Singapore. I have bad news. These people are wrong. My videos in Singapore are 100% not sponsored by anyone. I came here by myself, spent my own money, to make my own videos about your country. And I need to make sure everyone is aware of that.”

He explained that his videos appear positive because Singapore has figured many things out that other countries don’t:

“It is disheartening to see people discredit my work because of unfounded allegations. I know most of my videos are positive. But what can I do? You guys actually have some stuff figured out that many countries don’t have figured out!”

His public clarification triggered a wave of support from Singaporeans who encouraged him to continue making positive videos about Singapore and to ignore the online trolls who belong to the minority.

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ST Forum writer: Singaporeans should appreciate what they have

Posted by temasektimes on August 31, 2018

Following a recent public outcry over the depreciating value of HDB flats, the state media has published several letters from government supporters expressing their “gratitude” and “appreciation” toward the government in recent days.

A regular contributor to the Straits Times Forum Mr Lee Teck Chuan wrote today that “Singaporeans should count themselves fortunate that they live in a system that takes care of them from the cradle to the grave, but not in a socialist welfare way that discourages effort.”

He urged Singaporeans not to take the government’s policies for granted:

“We grow the value of our assets by buying our first Housing Board flat and subsequently upgrading to larger ones that may suit our needs. We should not take these for granted. Foresight and planning for the future are paramount. Stability brought on by continuity of government and good governance makes all these possible.”

Mr Lee ended his letter by beseeching Singaporeans not to develop a feeling of entitlement:

“Although there is much worry about social stratification, such policies make our system fair. At least the spoils of our economic achievements are shared equitably. But we must check ourselves from turning complacent and developing a feeling of entitlement.”

Unfortunately, his views are not shared by many netizens:

leetc

Source: Straits Times Facebook page

 

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Indranee Rajah admits: Value of HDB flats will go down as lease gets shorter

Posted by temasektimes on August 31, 2018

After much pussy-footing by PAP ministers lately over the real value of HDB flats as their lease decay, Minister in Prime Minister’s Office Indranee Rajah finally admits that their value will depreciate with them.

Speaking to residents during a dialogue session at The Grassroots Club two days ago, Ms Rajah cautioned that like any asset, HDB flats have “a life cycle”:

“During the early part of the lease, the value of a flat would appreciate. But towards the end, as the lease gets shorter and shorter, the market value will necessarily go down.”

IMG_1036

Photo: New HDB flats are under construction at Old Airport Road

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong first sparked public concern in a blog post of March 24, in which he cautioned buyers of older resale flats against paying high prices on the assumption that their flats would be “Sers-ed”.

Mr Wong made clear that the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (Sers) – under which the HDB acquires ageing blocks for redevelopment, compensates residents at market rates for their old flats and lets them buy new units nearby at subsidised rates – was never intended for all flats and when the lease of HDB flats expired, they will be returned to the state at zero value.

This obvious fact was only revealed recently after many years of state-sponsored propaganda that “HDB flats are an asset whose value will appreciate with time” fueling unrealistic expectations of HDB flat owners that the value of their homes will keep on rising.

In the 1990s, when asset enhancement was a key goal of the Government, then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong said in a 1992 speech:

“It is in your interest to ensure that the value of your flats continues to rise.”

In 1994, then Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew also spoke of HDB flats as investments:

“I would start off with a five-room or an HDB executive… quickly, before my income ceiling takes me beyond that. You buy a flat in Bishan, it’s going today for half a million. So I would get there first, stay five years, seven years, and then move out.”

Over 80% of Singaporeans live in HDB flats and state-funded upgrading of HDB flats are often and still used as a carrot during election time to persuade Singaporeans to vote for the PAP.

During the 2011 General Election when there was widespread public angst over rising prices of HDB flats, Lee Kuan Yew publicly chided Singaporeans as being “daft” if they vote for the opposition:

“No country in the world has given its citizens an asset as valuable as what we’ve given every family here. And if you say that policy is at fault, you must be daft.”

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EXCLUSIVE: HDB contract is between Lessor and Lessee

Posted by temasektimes on August 30, 2018

The recent confusion over the status of HDB flat buyers – whether they are owners or lessees can easily be solved by comparing the contracts buyers have to sign with HDB versus a private developer.

When you buy a HDB flat from HDB, you sign a contract stating clearly that it is made between the LESSOR which is HDB and you, the LESSEE:

1hdblessee

According to the Oxford dictionary of English:

  1. A LESSOR is a person who leases or lets a property to another; a landlord.
  2. A LESSEE is a person who holds the lease of a property; a tenant.

Unless the HDB lawyers who drafted up the legal contract do not understand simple English, it is very clear that buyers are HDB flats are merely lessees buying a 99 year lease from HDB – they do not own the flat or the land on which it is built on.

Contrast the above with a typical Sales and Purchase agreement for a 99 year leasehold private property:

salepurchase

It is stated clearly that the agreement is between the Vendor (Developer) and the Purchaser for the sale and PURCHASE of the unit – you are buying the property, not leasing it from the Vendor.

Minister in Prime Minister’s Office Indranee Rajah claimed lately that HDB flat owners own the flat because they are able to sell them and make a profit.

This is only a half-truth because what HDB flat owners are selling is the remaining lease of their flat, not the flat or the land on which it sits on and there is a big CAVEAT here: being the LESSOR of the HDB flats, HDB retains the ultimate ownership of the flat, meaning that it CAN forbid you from selling your HDB to a second party.

That is why HDB can impose so many restrictions on the sale and rental of HDB flats such as you can only sell it after the 5 year Minimum Occupation Period and only to a buyer of the same ethnic race as yourself. It can even repossess your HDB flat at zero cost if you break the laws governing its use such as running an illegal business or subletting it to prostitutes.

If one day, HDB decides not to allow HDB flat owners to sell their flats, you will have no choice but to keep the flat till its lease end and return it to the state at ZERO value and there is no legal revenue for you to seek recourse because when you sign the contract, it is stated in black and white that it is a LEASE agreement between a LESSOR and LESSEE. Nowhere was it stated in the contract that HDB must allow you to sell the flat. You can say it is out of goodwill that HDB currently permits you to sell your flat.

In summary:

  1. What you are buying is the 99 year lease of a flat from HDB which remains the legal  and rightful owner of the flat.
  2. HDB makes the final decisions regarding your HDB flat. At present, it allows you to sell your flat after 5 years of Minimum Occupation Period. As and when it likes, it can change it to 10 years, 20 years or even forbid you from selling it.
  3. What you are selling is the remaining lease of the HDB flat. The buyer pays for the right to own the remaining lease of the flat.

To be fair, the ministers may not have the full information or knowledge at hand to answer all these queries and amid this brouhaha, one voice was conspicuous by its absence: HDB.

Can HDB please come forward to clarify the following:

  1. Are HDB flat buyers owners or lessees?
  2. If they are indeed owners, why is the HDB contract crafted as between a LESSOR and LESSEE? Is there a typo mistake elsewhere?
  3. Does HDB retain the ultimate ownership over all HDB flats? If this is not so, why can’t HDB owners use their flats as a collateral to borrow from the bank?

It is time the government be completely upfront, honest and transparent with us on the exact status of HDB flat buyers instead of issuing confusing, misleading and contradictory statements in bits and pieces which not only fail to allay the anxieties and fears of HDB flat lessees, but will breed doubt and distrust in public consciousness in the long run.

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Indranee Rajah: Singaporeans own their HDB flats because they get to sell

Posted by temasektimes on August 30, 2018

The contentious issue of whether Singaporeans do own their HDB flats they bought continue to fester with many not convinced by the often contradictory explanation issued by the PAP ministers so far.

During a recent dialogue session with residents at The Grassroots’ Club, an Indian Singaporean asked Minister in Prime Minister’s Office Indranee Rajah if Singaporeans are really owners of their HDB flats.

“Singaporeans have been able to keep the profit from the sale of their Housing Board flats, and that proves that they are owners, not mere tenants,” Ms Rajah explained.

She stressed that HDB flats remain as “asset” to those who made a profit from their sales:

“Everybody who has actually made a profit on the sale of an HDB flat, you cannot say that it’s not an asset. Of course it is.”

Her response was widely lambasted by netizens who questioned her logic:

indranee01

indranee02.jpg

Source: Straits Times Facebook page

Singaporeans have been constantly being sold on the idea of their HDB flats being an “asset” whose value will appreciate with time.

During the 2011 General Election when Singaporeans were complaining about the rising HDB flat prices, former PAP Supreme Leader Lee Kuan Yew told Singaporeans that they ought to understand the PAP Government sells them at a subsidised price, below market rate, so that they can own an asset that will appreciate in value over the years.

“We give our buyer an asset which is below market price the moment he buys it. So there is no profit, it’s a loss, but there’s a strategy behind that loss. That loss is to give the man an asset which he will value, which will grow in price as the country develops, as his surroundings become better.”

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Government always “pow chiat” in sale of HDB flats

Posted by temasektimes on August 30, 2018

The government always “pow chiat” (“win” in Hokkien) when they sell HDB flats to Singaporeans.

We are considered owners when they want you to pay property tax, but we are only tenants when they say your lease is up after 99 years.

We are owners when the flat is due for repair works, but we are only tenants when considering our right to a free car park.

We are owners when there is inter-floor leakage problem with our neighbours, but we are only tenants when they require you to get HDB consent to rent out a room or two.

We are owners when we are required to pay a down-payment for the purchase of a HDB flat, but we are only tenants who cannot use our flats as collateral to borrow from the bank.

Either way, they win, we lose!

PETER ONG

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Singapore’s CPF pays pittance interest compared to Malaysia and Australia

Posted by temasektimes on August 29, 2018

A survey was done by Singapore’s Central Provident Fund (CPF) board recently to find out what CPF members did with their funds, if they cashed them out. Under existing rules, when CPF members turn 55, they can only withdraw $5000 and any excess of the minimum sum. (Source: TODAY)

The current minimum sum for this year is $171,000, meaning that CPF members must keep the amount in their Retirement Account which is automatically formed by combining their Ordinary Account (OA) and Special Account (SA) when they reach 55 years old.

Of the four in 10 CPF members who chose not to withdraw their savings, the CPF Board said they may have done so to enjoy higher CPF interest rates compared with those from banks.

According to the CPF website:

CPF interest rates from 1 July 2018 to 30 September 2018

  • Up to 3.5% per annum on the Ordinary Account
  • Up to 5% per annum on the Special and Medisave accounts
  • Up to 5% per annum on the Retirement Account
  • CPF members aged 55 and above will earn an additional 1% extra interest on the first $30,000 of their combined balances

The interest rate paid by CPF is a pittance compared to those paid by Malaysia and Australia.

Malaysia’s Employee Provident Fund (EPF), Singapore’s CPF equivalent paid its members an average annual rate of between 5% to 7% in the past ten years:

Source: KWSP

Australia’s SuperAnnuation fund or Super in short, allows its members to the option of buying from different private providers and most delivers a constantly high interest rate of more than 10 percent in the past 10 years:

Source: Rate City

Unlike Singapore, both funds allow its members to withdraw them in full at the age of 55 for Malaysia and 60 for Australia. Australia’s Super Fund also permits its holders to withdraw their pension completely in one lump sum if they have a terminal medical condition, permanent disability or incapacity, experience severe financial hardships or on compassionate grounds. (Source: Super Guide)

Australian citizens do not have to worry about their medical expenses because they are covered under Medicare, a publicly funded universal healthcare system which covers hospital stays, specialist and family physician outpatient visits, drugs and even equipment.

It is befuddling that being one of the world’s wealthiest nations, Singapore pays its citizenry such a pittance interest rate in their pension fund and impose stringent restrictions on its use including preventing them from being withdrawn completely. If such a scheme were to be introduced in Malaysia or Australia, there will be massive public outcry and the government will be booted out of office in the next election.

Fortunately for Singapore’s ruling party, most Singaporeans are not aware of the obvious fact that the interest rates offered to them by CPF is really very low compared to the rest of the world and are happily buying into the often repeated state-sponsored propaganda that CPF pays a “higher interest” rate than the bank.

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Bishan GP Yik Keng Yeong defends PAP ministers’ pay: Cabinet cost only $10 per resident

Posted by temasektimes on August 29, 2018

A General Practitioner based in Bishan Dr Yik Keng Yeong has written to the Straits Times Forum today defending the PAP ministers’ astronomical salaries which was a hot topic among Singaporeans recently following Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong’s public lamentation that they are not paid enough.

Dr Yik wrote Singapore should not adopt the “simplistically expedient measure of decreasing the pay of the executive branch of the Government, convenient whipping boy though it has become.”

“If it all comes down to just numbers, Singaporeans fork out about $50 million to $60 million per annum in taxes, or about $10 per resident a year to pay our Cabinet. To put this into perspective, one premier-grade durian, eaten within minutes, costs more than $50. So, is this a pittance or an extravagance?” he added.

His comparison was widely lampooned by netizens:

 

Source: Straits Times Facebook page

 

Dr Yik is currently working at Tan & Yik Clinic and Surgery. He is well known to be a fervent supporter of the PAP and has written numerous letters to the Straits Times Forum supporting its policies.

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SGinstaBabes soliciting money to assess its girls on new Patreon page

Posted by temasektimes on August 29, 2018

A group of controversial “influencers” in Singapore known as SgInstaBabes has set up a new Patreon page to solicit money from the public to view its stable of girls.

Patreon is a platform for artists, musicians and other creative types to seek financing directly from supporters of their work.

Its patrons or subscribers can pay between $10 to $5000 monthly to view the girls on the page, attend their photo shoots and even join a yacht party with alcohol provided.

 

Source: SginstaBabes Patreon page

Despite some criticisms from netizens who accused the site of “objectifying” women, its founder 28 year old Lai Week Kiat explained that his intention is “innocuous”:

“When I started our Patreon, it was to give a chance to our followers to be more involved in our activities and to fund us. We share more photos, we organize photo shoots and we party. And we’re thankful for all our subscribers, not think that we’re so great and they should feel privileged to join us. That’s it. Anything beyond that is your assumption and extrapolation. Unfortunately, I see that our innocent intentions are being perverted, just like how the dark web would.”

 

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