More options for expats in new international schools

When Britain’s Dulwich College opens its doors here in a few months, it will already have waiting lists for some classes.

Gems World Academy Singapore, also opening this year, has launched more classes for certain grade levels.

The new entrants to the international school scene here will join at least three others which started operations or opened additional campuses here in the past five years: Stamford American International School, the Canadian International School and the United World College of Southeast Asia.

Others, such as the Lycee Francais de Singapour (LFS), the German European School Singapore and the Overseas Family School have plans to add campuses or move to larger premises within the next three years.

At French School LFS, demand has grown so much that the current campus at Serangoon had to be extended three times since 1999.

Stamford American has grown from 76 to 2000 over students. EDB estimated that there are more than 30 international schools here. These schools have about 40,000 students as of last year.

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Slowdown in big-ticket property deals

Investment sales of real estate are often seen as a gauge of developers and property investors’ confidence in the medium to long-term prospects of the property market. Investment sales of Singapore property – big-ticket deals of at least $10 million –  continued to languish at around $3.5-3.6 billion this quarter so far . The year-to-date tally of around $8 billion is down from around $12-plus billion in the first-half of last year.

Industry player CBRE predicts that this year will end with around $12-15 billion of transactions, while Savills’ forecast is $16-18 billion — significant declines from last year’s $30 billion.

Industry players attribute the lacklustre showing in the first half to the overall cautious sentiment in the Singapore property market following the introduction of the total debt servicing ratio (TDSR) framework. As well, both foreign and local investors are being drawn to overseas markets. The cut-back in Government Land Sales (GLS) also contributed to the pullback in investment sales here.


More temporary usage of State properties

The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) said there is a “growing interest” in the use of State properties for ad-hoc events. Various activities, from fashion shows to product launches, are being held in buildings that are no longer in use.

The SLA has issued 27 Non-Renewable Temporary Occupation Licences (NRTOLs) since last year to those who wished to hold their events at such places.

A popular venue is the former Kallang Airport, which has hosted fashion shows in recent months.  Another 20 State properties are up for rent, including the old Tanjong Pagar Railway Station and several buildings in the Dempsey Road and Bukit Timah areas. The SLA said these properties can be used for fashion shows, location filmings and product launches.

Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) impact to date

The Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) was introduced in June 2013 to ensure financial prudence among borrowers and strengthen credit underwriting practices among banks. The ratio determines how much an individual can borrow from the banks.

Under it, total monthly debt payments including home and car loans cannot exceed 60 per cent of the property buyers’ income. These debt payments are wide-ranging and can include home and car loans, study loan, and even credit card debts.

In the private residential market, the impact of the TDSR on sales volume quickly became apparent. There were 482 new units bought in July 2013, a drop of 73.3% compared to 1,806 unit) in June 2013.

In total, 9,115 new homes were bought since the TDSR was implemented – that’s half the amount bought in a year-on-year comparison from Jul 2012 to May 2013.

Analysts we spoke to say the suburban homes were the hardest hit. Numbers compiled by Knight Frank Singapore showed that 63 per cent fewer new homes in the suburbs were bought in the second half of 2013, compared to the first half of the year.

As for prices, the effect of TDSR was seen later that year. The Urban Redevelopment Authority’s residential property price index slipped 0.9% in the fourth quarter of 2013, the first decline in almost two years.

Prices dipped again in the next quarter – this time by 1.3 per cent. making it the largest drop since the second quarter of 2009, when prices fell by 4.7 per cent.

In boosting sales, some developers have turned to cutting prices. One of the latest to join the fray is the Panorama condominium in Ang Mo Kio, which relaunched in May at a median price of about $1,241 per square foot.

That is about 8 per cent lower than the median price when it was first launched in January this year. But property watchers we spoke to say the discounts are typically for bigger or “less prime” units, and developers are unlikely to lower prices across their projects.

Developers may also be creating smaller units, to balance between offering palatable prices for buyers, and maintaining their profit margins. According to figures from CBRE, the median size of units in the suburbs declined from 753 square feet in the third quarter of 2013, to 732 square feet in the first quarter of this year.

The impact of the TDSR was also felt in the private residential resale market. CBRE’s numbers showed that sales volume in the secondary market dropped by 50 per cent in the first half of this year, compared to the same period last year.

But it may be increasingly difficult to find tenants, as the Government tightens its foreign labour controls and more new homes enter the market in the coming months.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority estimates that a total of 18,350 units will be completed this year, while another 21,738 units, excluding executive condominiums, are expected to be completed in 2015.

The Lippo Group boss’s values and determination

Was reading the WEALTH section of BT and was inspired by this article on Mochtar Riady.

You can read more here:

“When I started my banking business I had two choices – to be a successful banker or a good banker. What does it mean to be a successful banker? As long as you make money for the bank and grow it, the successful banker doesn’t care whether credit is given to people or to the casino, or to gambling or drugs. Even environmental damage. They don’t care. “But the good banker takes care of this; every cent of credit has to be in the right direction and to bring benefit to society. That’s a good banker.” His father was sceptical of his banking ambitions. As he told the conference: “My father said – banking is money. You don’t have money, how can you do it? I said – it is trust, not money. Money is an instrument for trust transactions. As long as I have trust, I can be a banker. “My father says – you are a young man with no position in Jakarta. How can you be trusted? I can invite trusted people to be partners.” Herein lies the secret to his business success, as he pithily told the audience to applause: “I know what I do not know.” He added: “When someone says he doesn’t know, you have to look for professionals to run the business. This is the secret. “

SELF-MADE billionaire Mochtar Riady counts among Indonesia’s wealthiest tycoons, yet wealth itself means little to him. Instead, social responsibility – doing good for people and for Indonesia in particular – appears to be uppermost in his mind and his passion. He puts it simply: “Wealth… actually after US$10 million, you just always put zeros at the end. Up to now, I don’t think I can spend more than US$10,000 a month. That means in one year, I only spend about US$120,000 and that’s enough. My wealth means nothing to me. But I hope our company can do something good for society.” Mr Riady is the founder and chairman of the Asian business powerhouse, The Lippo Group. Its corporate tentacles extend into media, real estate, hospitality, energy, information technology, education and healthcare, among others. The group has a presence in over 10 countries in North America and Asia-Pacific, with assets in excess of US$20 billion. Forbes ranks Mr Riady as the sixth wealthiest in Indonesia, with a net worth of US$2.8 billion. In April, Mr Riady kept an audience of corporate and business bigwigs in rapt attention when he made a keynote speech at Credit Suisse’s Global Megatrends Conference. He delivered an account of the rise of his business interests through the years, punctuating it with touches of wry humour and humility. He also spoke to Wealth on the sidelines of the event in Singapore. Tellingly, for instance, he spoke of “status” – not in terms of influence or wealth, as it would normally be defined by most people – when asked what advice he gives to his sons. “Every person has a status,” he told the audience. “Status increases with age. For instance, when I was a boy, my status was the son of my parents. When my mother had a daughter, my status became brother of my sister… Status rises with responsibility. When I was a student I kept in mind that I have to do good things to beautify my parents’ name. In my status as a husband, I try my best to be a good husband to my wife and a good father to my sons… Today my responsibility is how to make my country Indonesia do well.”

75 heritage buildings conserved

The Chief Planner has gazetted the Master Plan 2014 on 6 June 2014. The Master Plan 2014 is the statutory land use plan that guides the physical development of Singapore for the medium term.

As part of the Master Plan, all 75 heritage buildings proposed for conservation under the Draft Master Plan 2013 were also gazetted today.


• Leong San See Temple, 371 Race Course Road

• Ban Siew San Temple, 2 Telok Blangah Drive

• Koon Seng Ting Temple, 4 Telok Blangah Drive

• Tang Gah Beo, 6 Bukit Purmei

• Kiew Lee Tong Temple, 5 Jalan Tambur

• Sian Keng Tong, 216 Changi Road

• Former Chee Kong Tong (Thekchen Choling) Entrance Gate, 2 Beatty Lane

• Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, 141 Serangoon Road

• Sri Manmatha Karuneshvarar Temple, 226 Kallang Road

• Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman Temple, 555 Serangoon Road

• Sri Krishnan Temple, 152 Waterloo Street

• Angullia Mosque Gatehouse, 265 Serangoon Road

• Malabar Mosque, 471 Victoria Street

• Wak Tanjong Mosque, 25 Paya Lebar Road

• Former St Matthew’s Church & Kindergarten, 184 Neil Road

• Former Institute of Health (Bestway House), 226 Outram Road

• Alexandra Hospital, 378 Alexandra Road

• 394 Alexandra Road

• Queenstown Public Library, 53 Margaret Drive

• Former Commonwealth Avenue Wet Market, 38 Commonwealth Avenue

• Former Field Assistant’s House (Institute Of Policy Studies) & The Garage at Singapore Botanic Gardens

• 142 Moulmein Road (Department Of Clinical Epidemiology – Tan Tock Seng Hospital), 144 Moulmein Road (Tuberculosis Control Unit)

• 5 blocks of Singapore Improvement Trust flats at Kampong Silat (18, 19, 22, 23 & 24 Silat Avenue)

• Robertson Quay Warehouses (17, 19 & 21 Jiak Kim Street; 19 & 20 Merbau Road; 41 & 42 Robertson Quay, 63 Caseen Street and 72-13 Mohamed Sultan Road)

• Former Royal Air Force Seletar (Blocks 179 & 450; 1, 2 & 226 Park Lane; 1 to 3 & 5 Hamilton Place; 3, 5A, 7, 9 to 13, 15 Hyde Park Gate; 1 to 16 The Oval

What a smart city should be

THREE-QUARTERS of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050, according to the United Nations. The question of what kind of cities the people of 2050 will find themselves living in was tackled at the recently concluded World Cities Summit (WCS) here.

The general consensus was that a smart city would be one that is green, sustainable and liveable.

The ultimate achievement for a city is to earn unconditional respect from people all over the world, for our people, our city and our country, said Liu Thai Ker, chairman of the Centre for Liveable Cities (CLC), during his closing remarks.

He told delegates that a city, which was in a way the largest piece of industrial design made by man, would be judged on its user-friendliness, functionality and aesthetics.

Over 130 mayors and city leaders, along with representatives of international organisations, researchers and urban planners, attended the four-day summit to discuss strategies on how to develop liveable, more resilient and attractive cities for urban residents worldwide.

They emphasised the need for governments to collaborate more closely with businesses, academia and citizen networks to create more holistic and cost-effective solutions that improve the quality of life.

Senior Minister of State for National Development Lee Yi Shyan said during the closing plenary that cities which invest in IT infrastructure, educational and training capacity to raise IT literacy, the adoption of open data and deployment of various intelligent systems could harness public opinions, and promote co-ownership of problems, and co-creation of solutions.

In such instances, the government need not be the sole solution provider, and neither can it, because there is potential for greater creative capacity in the people and private sector in devising solutions to help city residents deal with day-to-day problems, he said.

Some partnerships announced at this year’s WCS have already put that goal into action. One of them was a memorandum of understanding between the Housing & Development Board (HDB), the Energy Market Authority and Panasonic to study the feasibility of establishing a smart-home energy pilot to provide households with more energy choices and solutions.

The year-long study will explore various energy solutions – such as time-of-use pricing where electricity is cheaper during off-peak hours, and home-energy management systems which provide energy usage data to encourage behavioural change – for HDB households in the future.

As electricity demand increases, energy management technologies and solutions are becoming more important than ever, said Junichiro Kitagawa, managing director of Panasonic Asia Pacific. We hope that such synchronised private-public efforts will create a better life and a better world for all.

Transport solutions also featured in the conversations at WCS, with a focus on driverless vehicles.

SMRT International signed an exclusive agreement with technology provider 2getthere on Monday for an introduction of the latter’s driverless transit systems in Singapore.

We are keen to introduce such driverless transportation technology in Singapore where there are manpower challenges, said Goh Eng Kiat, managing director at SMRT International, adding that the company expects to participate in trial rollouts.

He added that the system can complement existing bus services through last-mile connectivity for commuters, and also has the ability to address on-demand transport requirements, while providing an energy-saving and green transportation solution.

Besides motorised transport, CLC is also looking to encourage active mobility. A joint study released by CLC and the US-based Urban Land Institute on Monday identified strategies to promote walking and cycling in tropical cities.

Ten recommendations were provided for active travel, such as ensuring visibility at road junctions by painting cycling lanes and continuous sidewalks that require cars to stop and allow pedestrians and cyclists to continue.

CLC’s executive director Khoo Teng Chye said that besides a change in the urban environment, active mobility required a change in mindset as well. As CEO and chief planner of URA in the 1990s, I was sceptical of whether cycling can be a viable form of transport, because of our hot and humid weather, for example.

But he pointed to cities such as Copenhagen and Amsterdam that have 80 per cent of their people cycling both in winter and summer to get around.

Many cities are now planning and providing infrastructure for cycling. They have developed much expertise and we should learn from them, rather than reinvent the wheel, said Mr Khoo.

Other recent studies also indicate that the ability to innovate and adjust to changes across the board is the key to a successful city with high quality of life.

A joint CLC-Shell report titled New Lenses on Future Cities released last month cited flexible long-term planning, investing in the future and collaboration between sections of society as some of the crucial conditions cities should have in order to respond promptly to emerging crises.

In particular, the report emphasised the importance of an efficient transport system that goes hand in hand with a compact city design, and raised the Republic as a positive example of a city that took and continues to take decisive steps for its long-term physical development.

The results of another study – PwC’s Cities of Opportunity, which ranks 30 global cities across 10 indicators – also highlighted the need for cities to actively sweat the details on virtually every aspect of urban policy and organisation.

Of the cities ranked in the top 10 overall, nine were ranked in the top 10 as well for at least five indicators.

Singapore finished third overall behind London and New York and was also top for the transportation and infrastructure indicator.

The fourth edition of the WCS was held together with the Singapore International Water Week and the CleanEnviro Summit Singapore. More than 20,000 participants from 118 countries attended the three co-located events.,%20sustainable%20and/945317

Prime Waterfront Homes and Living in Singapore

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