11 June 2010
When people with no-balls play e-football .....
= Defender recruits can hibernate for 12 months and ...
As defenders in e-football, Sale Committee members are recruited but they don’t need to get into play pronto. Instead, under the amendments to the Land Titles (Strata) Act (LTSA) recently passed in Parliament on 18 May 2010, these volunteer recruits could lay in hibernation for 12 months and may likely sleepwalk in perpetuity, depending on the final version of the LTSA 2010 amendments.
= Shifting goal posts over a period of up to 12+12=24 months
Market is likely to be volatile and shifting. Prices are usually on the uptick move to spark en bloc interest during the first 12-month period to collect signatures of Collective Sale Agreement (CSA) to meet requisite Majority Consent level and the second 12-month period to find Developer-buyer, sign Sale and Purchase Agreement (SPA) and apply to Strata Titles Board (STB) for collective sale order. Between the VIX (Volatility Index) and the ticks, you would have been nicked (and licked)!
= Ball is more or less transfixed
The Reserve Price and the Apportionment Method, both of which establish the en bloc sale proceeds to be received by each unit, are set WITHOUT factual basis and WITHOUT independent valuation report. Yet these two elements determine the level of signature of CSA to cross the Majority Consent tipping point. Under the CSA, Apportionment Method is deep-frozen and Reserve Price is semi-thawed but it may be hit long after the first CSA signature was obtained, say, 22 months later vis-à-vis a market that is in a constant flux assuming that it took the full 12 months to cross tipping point. When the ball is transfixed, the game has been fixed, don't you think?
= Defenders place bets for e-match
Things get even more brazen!!! Not only has the game been rigged with a transfixed ball, the en bloc flippers even have the gall to place bets in broad daylight even as they are playing in the match game - whether as defenders in the Sale Committee, as morphed-strikers during private treaty negotiations off-the-field, or as bumbling goalies who sheepishly score own goals with a vengeance! The Gahmen as FIFA organizer do absolutely nothing to deter (much less pre-empt) such bets from being placed by en bloc flippers even as they enthusiastically enroll to join the squad because it is all about "free market forces", they say. What else is new eh, my dear Johnny-come-lately?
Ordinarily, a foul is a foul. But in e-football (en bloc football), the flippers' foul (ie, non-declaration of conflict of interest) committed BEFORE appointment to Sale Committee versus AFTER appointment only smells like an pair of worn socks unwashed for 45 days or 45 minutes - take your pick! Conveniently, the Gahmen have forgotten to arm the two referees with red and yellow cards but instead they hoisted a smelly sock! Such child-like innocence is embedded within the ranks of our mighty regulators - Wondrous indeed!
= Two referees play Double Jeopardy with malformed whistles
The 2nd referee is the lawyer who also operates on no-sale-no-fee basis. Lawyers stick in 20-page legalese whereas earthlings typically catch-no-ball if a sentence has more than 20 words. Lawyer watches Owners sign. Owners don't ask (because Owners caught no ball, they won't know what to ask), lawyer won't tell. So what's wrong, darling?
= Own team’s defenders are also allowed to be strikers
Following on from the above point, Owners may not even have an opportunity to make such EOGM requisition if the Sale Committee decides to be schizophrenic. This is because LTSA allows the Sale Committee defender to also play striker by signing private treaty with Developer-buyer and then make an announcement after-the-fact – in plain English, it is in 4 words "DO FIRST, TELL LATER"; in legalese, it is in two words "FAIT ACCOMPLI". Hee, hee ... a rare case of legalese saying it in fewer words than plain English, eh? Bottomline three words: OWNERS ARE COOKED!
Sale Committee as defender could also be taken to task if en bloc sale should be aborted despite hitting Reserve Price.
Sale Committee members are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. All this is because LTSA has FAILED to provide for a simple Re-affirmation mechanism by Majority Consenters despite embedding in the law a lag of up to 2 years!!! Hilarious but not at all funny!
= Opposing team's players (Developers) join the game only in final month and they even bring their own ball as they dribble, sprint, kick and tackle
Developers know some of the other side's game play, eg, Reserve Price, which may facilitate their counter-strategy of appearing disinterested during public tender, but only to come in for off-field private treaty game where Developers even bring their own ball – indeed, I'm not kidding you!!! Relative to the potentially 12+12=24 month period of play by Owners, the Developers join the game only towards the final moments of about one month. Therefore, only the Developers are well placed to know if the weather conditions are sunny, rainy or scattered showers and whether the ground is sweet. To score or not is entirely the Developer's call, not yours! Willing Buyer, Willing Seller??? More like: Willing Buyer, Die-Die-Must-Sell Seller!
= Game over!!!
(i) Development Charge, (ii) Development Baseline and (iii) Development Ceiling as parameterized by plot ratios and storey height controls as part of Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) Concept Plan (last one was done in 2001 and the upcoming one is 2011) with its array of detailed Development Guide Plans and URA’s Master Plan (last one was done in 2008). Please refer to my previous blog posting of 24 Dec 2007 at: http://singaporeenbloc.blogspot.com/2007/12/in-coming-year.html
By using the full force of law to (i) impinge on extant owners’ private strata title property rights in built-up plots and (ii) invariably unlock land value in the process, even endearing Forrest Gump would ask the following question about his “Endearing Home” (tag line of the Ministry of National Development):
Q: Is LTSA calibrated to unlock land value for extant owners?
[NOTE: This is the very law that (1) mandates en bloc sales, (2) invokes the power of majoritianism and (3) claims the platform of collectivism by locking-in Majority Consenters and forcing Minority Dissenters into sale!]
2. When and Where??? Anecdotal history from 1999 to date is NOT on the Gahmen’s side. The trend from 1999 to date has been persistent and consistent with “double the price, half the size” realities for almost all en bloc redevelopments. Displaced extant owners have no choice but to morph into a Refugee (moving from one en bloc estate to another old estate that will likely face en bloc again), Squatter (renting whilst praying for market crash to time the next market buy-in), Downgrader (from private condo to HDB public flat) or Downsizer (from 3000 sq ft unit to 1500 sq ft).
3. Why and How??? Let’s be generous and give Gahmen the benefit of the doubt.
If unlocking land value for corporate developers was UNwitting or coincidentally incidental, then how does one account for the last two rounds of 2007 and 2010 LTSA legislative amendments within 2.75 years? Namely:
(a) Why did the Gahmen fail to address the deep structural flaws subsisting within LTSA since inception from 1999, viz, 10.5 years ago?
(b) Why did the Singapore Gahmen fail to mandate alternative solutions (eg, similar to South Korean’s mandatory one-for-one (1-4-1) exchange as one more settlement option or some other bright idea)? [Of all the various tactical formations in football game strategies ... be it 4-4-2, 4-2-4, 4-3-3 or 4-5-1 ... there is one winning strategy of 1-4-1 for qualifying Owners that gives the Singapore Gahmen and Developers diarrhea even before they imbibe. So you can't help but wonder why are they so terrified of trying-out kimchi (Korean national appetizer)?]
Hence, wouldn’t it be reasonable to deduce that unlocking land value for corporate developers may not be as UNwitting as the Gahmen would like to think (or would like to have us believe)?
Not surprisingly, it happens to dovetail with the PRO-SALE jigsaw pieces mentioned above. It would appear that our national agenda of urban rejuvenation and higher land-use intensity is better aligned with corporate interests when land value is unlocked for these corporations' commercial benefit. That's probably why the Gahmen routinely ONLY INCLUDES corporations (be it commercial and non-government organizations) in their face-to-face consultations, dialogues and workshops and ALWAYS EXCLUDES its plebian citizens even though en bloc law directly impacts on our citizens' homes and nest-egg crown jewels - sometimes devastatingly so!
So let's NOT under-estimate the pervasive effects of this global trend of Progressive Corporatism as the following cartoons put it so succinctly and elegantly, as extracted from http://www.storyofstuff.org/: