Friday, September 28, 2018

S'pore’s tax revenue boosted by higher stamp duty and corporate income tax collections


27 SEPTEMBER, 2018


SINGAPORE — The taxman collected S$50.2 billion in revenue for the financial year of 2017 and 2018 (FY2017/18), a 6.8 per cent increase from the previous year, said the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras).

In a press statement on Wednesday (Sept 26), the authority said the increase was attributed mainly to higher stamp duty collection as more properties were being transacted, as well as growing corporate income taxes due to improved corporate earnings.

Stamp duty collection for FY 2017/18 increased by almost 50 per cent to S$4.9 billion from the previous financial year.

Meanwhile, corporate income tax collection went up from S$13.6 billion to S$15 billion in the same period.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Thailand to double airport capacity, surpassing Singapore's Changi

Airport high-speed railway could draw China-Japan investment, says minister
YUKAKO ONO, Nikkei staff writer 

September 16, 2018

BANGKOK -- Thailand is embarking on a building spree that promises to more than double the passenger capacity of airports in and around Bangkok, propelling the Thai capital past regional hub Singapore by that measure.

In an interview with the Nikkei Asian Review on Sept. 13, Thai Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said the new U-Tapao airport, a former military air base southeast of Bangkok, will handle up to 60 million passengers a year once it is fully renovated into a civil airport. The entire transformation is expected to take 20 years.

Mahathir and Anwar’s battle for Umno

Malay Mail

20 September 2018

By Praba Ganesan

SEPTEMBER 20 — Hundred-twenty-four. Remember the number.

Since these are busy days.

Both the Anwar Ibrahim and Mahathir Mohamad camps are stuck in seemingly perpetual political negotiations to up their respective MP counts, especially to procure the unofficial tally lead within the tally — of Malay parliamentarians.

It is odd, this race for support. Especially, if one swallows whole the official version of the purported political balance in the country, where both are BFFs.

In this harmonious hugs-a-bountiful world, Anwar is in an inevitable two-year parade to the PM position, at which point, a benevolent Mahathir relegates himself to senior minister under the PKR president.

The Pakatan majority remains safe, Umno despondent without power, other Barisan Nasional (BN) parties in free fall to extinction before the next general election, and PAS sits pretty laughing at all sets of politicians who see the material world desirable, when only heaven truly matters and waits for them.

The ideal stable transfer of power from Mahathir to Anwar in 2020, 22 years late, but better late than never.

If one sucks it all in.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Singapore to replace Victory-class missile corvettes with Multi-Role Combat Vessels

Ridzwan Rahmat, 

02 July 2018

Key Points
  • Singapore has laid out plans to replace its Victory-class corvettes with a new type of multi-mission ship known as the Multi-Role Combat Vessel 
  • New ship type will further enhance the country’s ability to secure its sea lines of communication 

The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) will retire its class of six Victory-class corvettes, and replace these with a new type of platform known as the Multi-Role Combat Vessel (MRCV).

The matter was disclosed by Singapore’s Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen at a media conference held in conjunction with the country’s Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) day, which falls on 1 July.

How Hawaii handles Hurricane Lane holds lessons for Singapore

By Norman Vasu

28 August, 2018


I have been fortunate as an academic studying social resilience to be in Hawaii as it escaped the devastation of a direct hit by Hurricane Lane this month. Lane at its strongest was a Category 5 hurricane with wind speeds exceeding 252 kmh.

The manner in which authorities in Hawaii and its kamaʻāina (residents) prepared for Lane provides many learning points for societies such as Singapore interested in developing resilience in the face of a crisis.

Private developers may be involved in Vers scheme: Lawrence Wong

By Janice Lim

10 September, 2018


SINGAPORE – Private developers may be involved in the new Government scheme to redevelop public housing precincts that are around 70 years old, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong on Monday (Sep 10) in Parliament.

There were questions aplenty from Members of Parliament (MPs) on the new Voluntary Early Redevelopment Scheme (Vers) to redevelop public housing precincts in about 20 years’ time, but fewer answers from Mr Wong on Monday as details of the scheme have to be worked out.

Vers was first announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the National Day Rally last month.

“For Vers going forward, I will not rule out the possibility of having private developers involved and we will study (Fengshan MP Cheryl Chan’s) suggestion carefully,” said Mr Wong. “But let’s be very clear. Our aim is to redevelop public housing estates, so we will ensure that any redevelopment is done in a way that preserves the character of our Housing and Development Board (HDB) towns and supports HDB’s mission to provide affordable and quality homes for Singaporeans.”

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

'Would rather die on the beaches than in my office': how Jack Ma sees his retirement

11 September, 2018


HONG KONG — Chinese billionaire Jack Ma has shaken the global tech industry and beyond by revealing plans to step down from his role as executive chairman at Alibaba Group Holding, the most valuable company in Asia, in one year from Monday (Sept 10).

In a letter to all staff, Mr Ma cited his reason as giving way to younger generations to take over the tech juggernaut, which also owns the South China Morning Post.

An eloquent and animated public speaker who has attracted a large following with inspirational speeches, the tech mogul has talked about his retirement plans with candour and humour at various events over the past few years.

The self-made billionaire has also spoken of his dissatisfaction with his busy life and longing to become a teacher once again.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Ducking a farewell speech is the worst parting shot

[How to say goodbye. Graciously.]

By Pilita Clark

10 September, 2018


Paul Dacre caused a considerable amount of outrage in the 26 years he spent editing Britain’s noisy Daily Mail newspaper.

But when he finally stepped down the other week, he did something so remarkable it is hard to think of a precedent. He left without saying goodbye.

Instead of a farewell speech to staff, he left a seven-paragraph letter pinned to the office noticeboard. In it, he pointed out he was not really leaving, as he was off to a grand-sounding job upstairs, but apologised to those who thought he should have said a few words from the floor: “Frankly, it’s not my style and in all my years as editor not something I’ve ever done.”

I am unsure what is more surprising about that sentence: the audacious nature of the brush-off or the news that Britain’s most feared editor went for nearly 30 years without ever giving a desk-side address.

Either way, ducking a farewell speech is an odd move for any office veteran, particularly a boss. I do not see it catching on, though I know people who wish it would.

Monday, September 10, 2018

What happens when a Chinese factory city seeks a makeover? The workers making iPhones are priced out.


By Amanda Erickson

September 9 at 7:46 PM

SHENZHEN, China — Down the road from one of the biggest factories operated by electronics giant Foxconn, there is a temple, a basketball court and a pool hall run by a man named Jin.

Around lunchtime one summer day, children crowded together on old leather recliners at Jin’s place, watching videos on a phone. A few people play mah-jongg. Some others huddle at a plastic table, smoking and drinking tea.

But the pool tables — once Jin’s big moneymaker — sit empty. Balls rest idle in old metal cookie tins.

“Nobody comes anymore,” Jin said, gesturing to the empty room.

That is because fewer Foxconn workers can afford to live in this part of Shenzhen. It is one of the foundational cities in China’s economic rise. Now, Shenzhen’s leaders are seeking another transformation into a high-tech hub as China’s budding version of Silicon Valley.

More people will know about Singapore through Crazy Rich Asians: STB

By Alfred Chua

30 August, 2018

SINGAPORE — The movie Crazy Rich Asians has helped to increase awareness of Singapore as a destination, although its full impact on visitor arrivals will take time to realise, said the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) on Wednesday (Aug 29).

At the launch of the second wave of its Passion Made Possible campaign, the STB would not be drawn into the controversy over Singapore-born author Kevin Kwan – whose book of the same title forms the basis of the movie – defaulting on his National Service commitments.

Speaking to TODAY at the event, STB brand director Lim Shoo Ling would only comment on how the movie, a romantic comedy that was filmed in large part here, has helped to build the country’s brand.

“I think what (the movie) is doing for us is to help people know about Singapore… and from a destination (awareness) perspective, it is very good for us,” she said.

The STB and Singapore Film Commission had supported the movie, which has been a box-office success so far. The commission provided a production assistance grant and facilitated filming at various locations here, among other things.

The STB noted that visitor arrivals from the US last year were at its highest, increasing 9 per cent from 2016. The US was Singapore’s ninth-biggest source of visitor arrivals.

Why HDB owners should forget about getting a windfall from Vers

By Christopher Gee


09 September, 2018

Singaporeans have come to associate property en bloc exercises with windfall gains, where property owners get prices higher than what they would ordinarily achieve if selling on a stand-alone basis.

Whether in the private property market or via the Housing & Development Board’s Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme (Sers) for public housing flats, the redevelopment of older (and some not-so-old) properties has resulted in owners cashing out for, oftentimes, widely publicised monetary gains.

Unfortunately, expectations for such gains have also emerged in online and offline commentary on the Voluntary Early Redevelopment Scheme (Vers) announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his recent National Day Rally speech.

Few details have been released about the scheme, but Vers will begin to be offered progressively from about 20 years’ time to the owners of HDB flats that have 30 years or less of remaining lease.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Commentary: And the winner of that KL meeting is... Dr M

By Bertha Henson

03 September, 2018

If someone invited me to meet Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, my first instinct would be to say "yes''. It doesn't matter what hat I'm wearing (whether journalist or not), I am a curious enough human being to want to see what Dr M is like. Like him or hate him, he's a personality.

But he's no friend of Singapore, some people would say, and I would then go: So? Does being in the same room as him make me anti-Singaporean? Is this guilt by association? In fact, I would relish the opportunity to ask him some questions such as "Prime Minister Mahathir, may I ask why you seem to insist on bullying Singapore? It's so last millennium!''

HDB home prices then and now

By Fiona Ho


August 8, 2018

The Housing & Development Board (HDB) was set up on 1 February 1960 to solve Singapore’s housing crisis. Back in the day, many people were living in unhygienic slums and crowded squatter settlements. Only 9% of Singaporeans lived in government flats, while others yearned for a place to call home.
HDB sprang into action, and in less than three years, a total of 21,000 flats were built. By 1965, the HDB had built 54,000 flats.
Today, over one million HDB flats have been completed across the island, providing affordable housing options for generations of Singaporeans throughout the decades. But just how much have HDB home prices changed throughout the years?

Source: HDB,

1) 1970s
During its first decade of operation, HDB built only one- to four-room flats. To cope with a growing population, five-room flats were then introduced in the 1970s.
By the end of the decade, 36% of the total population were living in HDB flats. Average prices of HDB homes in the 1970s were:
3-room: Avg size - 646 sq ft; Avg price - $15,000 (New sale)
4-room: Avg size - 807 sq ft; Avg price - $20,000 (New sale)
5-room: Avg size - 1,022 sq ft; Avg price - $30,000 (New sale)

2) 1980s
Average floor sizes of new flats were increased from the early 1980s in response to the demand for bigger living spaces. Housing types like maisonettes were also introduced during this era.
More notably, HDB eased its eligibility conditions to allow more people a chance at homeownership in 1989, when it relaxed its citizenship criterion to allow Singapore permanent residents to own HDB flats. Average HDB flat prices in the 1980s were:
3-room: Avg size - 646 sq ft; Avg price - $50,000 (New sale)
4-room: Avg size - 807 sq ft; Avg price - $80,000 (New sale)
5-room: Avg size - 1,022 sq ft; Avg price - $110,000 (New sale)
Executive: Avg size - 1,506 sq ft; Avg price - $140,000 (New sale)

3) 1990s
The year 1991 saw one of the most significant changes in HDB’s policies for singles when it announced that single citizens aged 35 years and above could purchase HDB flats on their own. However, they were limited to only 3-room or smaller flats outside the central area.
In 1995, an intermediate category of housing to bridge the gap between HDB flats and private properties were introduced. Known as Executive Condominiums (ECs), these projects are built and sold by private developers. ECs offer the standard of private condo living but at lower prices and came with certain restrictions. Average prices of HDB flats in the 1990s fell in the following ranges:
3-room: Avg size - 753 sq ft; Avg price - $120,000 (New sale); $200,000 (Resale)
4-room: Avg size - 1,022 sq ft; Avg price - $170,000 (New sale); $270,000 (Resale)
5-room: Avg size - 1,345sq ft; Avg price - $230,000 (New sale); $350,000 (Resale)
Executive: Avg size - 1,560 sq ft; Avg price - $280,000 (New sale); $420,000 (Resale)

4) 2000s
Average floor sizes were decreased for new flats built in the 2000s. In the early part of the decade, further revisions were made to HDB’s policies for singles to allow Singaporeans to purchase flats of any type in any location.

It was also during this era that the Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) was introduced to add variety to public housing types in Singapore. Under DBSS, designated sites were sold to private developers, who are then responsible for designing, building and selling the flats.
Pricing increased significantly towards the end of the decade due to rising construction costs. The average prices for HDB flats during this decade were:
3-room: Avg size - 699 sq ft; Avg price - $110,000 (New sale); $180,000 (Resale)
4-room: Avg size - 968 sq ft; Avg price - $180,000 (New sale); $255,000 (Resale)
5-room: Avg size - 1,184 sq ft; Avg price - $240,000 (New sale); $340,000 (Resale)
Executive: Avg size - 1,399 sq ft; Avg price - $300,000 (New sale); $410,000 (Resale)

5) 2010s – present
Since peaking in 2Q2013, the HDB resale price index has been on a continuous descent for five consecutive years. However, we might be at a turning point as the HDB resale index showed a 0.1% q-o-q pickup in 2Q2018.
Today, a four-room resale HDB flat in Queenstown – one of the most expensive HDB estates to live in - comes up to a median transacted price of $718,000 in 2018. In comparison, three-bedroom condo units in a similar location typically costs at least $1 million. Average prices for HDB flats in 2018 are:
3-room: Avg size - 699 sq ft; Avg price - $291,000 (New sale); $310,000 (Resale)
4-room: Avg size - 968 sq ft; Avg price - $376,300 (New sale); $435,000 (Resale)
5-room: Avg size - 1,184 sq ft; Avg price - $448,700 (New sale); $530,000 (Resale)
Executive: Avg size - 1,399 sq ft; Avg price - $535,900 (New sale); $780,000 (Resale)

Note: Information is compiled from HDB and various online sources. They serve as guides and should not be used for official purposes.

[Note: the source of this informative (if correct) article is a real estate agency. I have not discovered any discrepancy, nor checked the information/data for accuracy, so please use this information with care, and if you intend to use it "for official purposes" (as their caveat puts it), you should probably have corroborating evidence.]