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Old 14-11-2005, 04:34 PM   #796
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Nov 14, 2005
HDB to test recycling chute in new estate

It will be installed in pilot project to see if the move encourages people to recycle waste more

By Radha Basu
IN A bid to encourage recycling, the Housing Development Board is to install a special garbage chute for recyclables in one of the new estates it launches next year.

If the pilot project proves successful, it will remove the biggest obstacle to recycling here - inconvenience - and the system will be rolled out to more new estates island-wide.

Currently, Housing Board residents have to either lug their recyclables to the nearest recycling bin, which may be some distance away, or have to save them for a door-to-door collection once a fortnight.

The specially designed new collection system will allow residents to throw all types of recyclables into a single chute. They will be separated later at sorting plants.

The initiative comes a week after Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew asked Singaporeans to do their bit to ensure that Singapore develops in an environmentally sustainable manner. 'Whatever we do, do not increase the pressure on land and the environment,' he said.

The chute, devised by local waste company SembCorp Environmental Management, was chosen because of its space-saving design, said HDB's Building Technology Department senior engineer Johnny Wong. 'We have been studying solutions from other countries but this one, devised in Singapore, seems to suit us the most.'

Unlike regular chutes, which collect rubbish in chambers at ground level, the SembEnviro technology allows the material to be stored on intermediate storeys, explained the company's general manager Cheong Kong Chuan.

'Since recyclables don't rot like wet waste, having storage chambers at the intermediate level allows us to collect and store such waste for longer periods, without building a huge storage chamber on the ground floor,' he said.

'So the waste can be collected once a week, making the collection procedure more economical.'

SembEnviro has filed for a patent for the technology.

Recycling - in which used paper, plastic, metal and glass refuse are sent back to industry for reuse - is a surefire way of reducing the mountains of garbage generated by consumerist societies.

Current recycling volumes here are low compared with those of other developed countries. For every tonne of rubbish Singaporeans recycle, for instance, an equivalent number of Germans or Australians recycle at least 12, according to the three public waste collectors.

But statistics also show Singaporeans produce about half as much rubbish as people in those countries.

HDB has not yet decided which estate the chute will be tested in, said Dr Wong.

The cost of the chute is still being negotiated.

The project was welcomed by MP and ardent recycling advocate Amy Khor, who heads the Government Parliamentary Committee for the environment and national development. Inconvenience, said Dr Khor, is the biggest impediment when it comes to getting residents here to recycle.

Many are unwilling to store recyclables for collection because it is so much easier to throw them down the garbage chute.

'So I think having a garbage chute solely for recyclables will help make recycling more painless,' said Dr Khor.

Recycling enthusiasts such as Mabel D'Cruz welcomed the move, but said more could be done to improve recycling infrastructure in existing estates.

'Having a recycling bin in my block would definitely help,' said the 48-year-old language teacher from Bedok, who has to either store her recyclables for the fortnightly collection or carry it to the nearest recycling bin more than half a kilometre from her block.

'Lugging recyclables all that distance in the heat can be quite a chore,' she said.
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Old 14-11-2005, 04:38 PM   #797
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Standardise HDB conservancy charges
Weekend November 12, 2005

Letter from Chiam Moi Leng

Owners of 3,4,5-room and executive Housing & Development Board (HDB) flat units currently pay different conservancy charges.

Owners of bigger flats pay higher conservancy charges.

The type of conservancy services provided by town councils include estate cleaning, removal of bulky refuse, landscaping and horticultural works, and repair of building and defects.

Most HDB flats are built with combinations of the different room types.

Residents living in 4-room units could be sharing the same corridor with those living in 5-room units.

A cleaner who sweeps and washes the common corridor provides similar services to both the 4 and 5-room households.

Wouldn't it be reasonable for the town councils to consider standardising conservancy charges since additional services are not provided to owners of the bigger flat units?

After all, the other services are provided to the general public and benefit each resident equally.
Include carparks in conservancy fees

Monday November 14, 2005

Letter from James Chi

I refer to the letter by Chiam Moi Leng, "Standardise HDB conservancy charges" (Nov 12).

I disagree that conservancy charges should be standardised.

Residents staying in bigger HDB apartments enjoy greater subsidies when buying their flats. Moreover, as the space that residents in five-room or executive apartments are occupying is also larger, they should bear a higher conservancy charge.

However, residents should not be made to fork out money for the maintenance of the same thing twice.

Multi-storey and basement carparks form part of the HDB landscape and hence should logically be covered by monthly conservancy charges.

All residents should have to bear the cost of maintaining those HDB carparks, whether they drive or not. The $90 monthly season parking seems unnecessary to pay for upkeep, when we view it in comparison to what residents living in private condominiums pay.

Some condominiums are charging residents less than, or only slightly more than, $200 for not only the parking and general maintenance, but also the use of other facilities such as swimming pools, tennis courts, bowling alleys and squash courts.

A Punggol 21 resident paying $90 for season parking and another $50 to $60 for conservancy might feel ripped off, especially when the area lacks recreational facilities (no swimming pools, tennis courts, squash courts or badminton courts).

I hope that the HDB and the town councils will review the current HDB charges to make it more equitable for the residents.
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Old 17-11-2005, 09:30 PM   #798
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HDB launches 770 flats for sale under Walk-In-Selection exercise
17 November 2005 1611 hrs

SINGAPORE : The Housing and Development Board has launched 770 units of three-, four- and five-room flats for sale under its latest Walk-In-Selection exercise.

They are located in mature estates like Bukit Merah, Geylang, Queenstown, Whampoa and Kallang.

The majority of the units offered are unselected ones from previous sales exercises in February and May this year.

Applicants of three-room flats must have a gross monthly household income under S$3,000, while the income ceiling for larger flats remains at S$8,000.

The sales exercise will be conducted at the HDB Hub and queue numbers will be issued on a first come first served basis from Thursday.

Unfurnished sample units will also be opened for viewing. - CNA
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Old 18-11-2005, 10:00 AM   #799
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Nov 18, 2005
Town council to rid block of cockroaches
I THANK Mr Lee Chang Meng for his feedback on cockroach infestation around Block 547, Hougang Street 51 ('Roaches a bane for years'; ST, Nov 15).

As Mr Lee had observed, we have stepped up our cleansing effort and carried out fogging to control the cockroach population. The situation had improved for a while but has recurred in recent weeks. We will be working closely with our pest-control contractor to intensify chemical treatment.

Meanwhile, we seek the cooperation of residents to bag their refuse properly before disposing it in the bin chutes.

We encourage residents to give feedback on 6585- 4938 (Pasir Ris Office) or 6489-0520 (Sengkang Office) so that we can provide prompt clarifications or service.

Michael Ngin
Public Relations Manager
for General Manager/Secretary
Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council
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Old 23-11-2005, 12:45 PM   #800
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Allow CPF funds for home rentals

Rent amounts now nearly same as interest rates, so won't affect CPF accounts

Wednesday November 23, 2005

Kuo How Nam

IT is time the Government reviews the rules governing the use of the Central Provident Fund (CPF) for home ownership.

So far, Singaporeans have had to buy their own homes because CPF funds are restricted to home ownership. Even if one thinks it is an inopportune moment to buy property, if he wants a roof over his head, he has to buy; that is, unless he has the cash resources to pay rent.

Although statistics show wealth creation in home ownership, this is not guaranteed; new homeowners, since 1997, have suffered losses on their investment.

Singapore has one of the highest debt per capita ratios in the world, caused mainly by our housing loans. We are particularly vulnerable to events that affect our jobs, income and CPF contributions. The past few years have been difficult as we went through a painful recession, restructuring and Sars.

Banks are now financing Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats and CPF contributions are no longer protected. People have lost their homes and CPF contributions when they defaulted on their housing loan instalments. Individuals now have to accept responsibility for their investment decisions.

Our policy makers should consider allowing the use of CPF contributions to pay for rental charges.

This could be done with the proviso that CPF funds used for rent can only be credited into another CPF account, so that the entire CPF scheme remains insulated and geared toward home ownership and other permitted uses.

We should not consider such CPF--funded rentals as being "consumed" or "wasted". The homeowner also suffers erosion in his CPF contributions equivalent to the interest on his loan, even if property prices remain constant.

Current rent amounts have fallen to not much more than the prevailing interest rate on housing loan, so there is not much distinction between using CPF contributions to pay for interest and for rents; both have the same negative impact on the CPF account holder.

If such a move is approved, there should not be a major shift in housing ownership preferences such that it will derail our national housing policy. I believe it is ultimately every person's goal to own their own home; and even if a choice is made to rent, it will be for good reasons related directly to the person's resources and his confidence in future job and income stability.

People will buy homes if the confidence is there. But they should not be forced to buy a property just because they need to use their CPF funds. This is all about giving more options and flexibility to Singaporeans.

The wealth of most Singaporeans is made up of their HDB flats. But the rental market remains limited and largely confined to expatriates. Indeed, if CPF-funded rentals are allowed, there will be benefits for both owners and lessees.

People will be able to rent out their larger apartments and rent a smaller flat to live in, instead of being forced to sell their larger apartments if they have difficulty in paying housing loan instalments.

Retirees will be able to obtain rent on their properties, which they can draw out from their CPF account if they are over 55 years, instead of selling their properties to fund their retirement.

Decoupling the use and ownership of property may make it more conducive to relaxing existing rules governing the resale and rental of HDB flats. We need to think out of the box to cope with future challenges, shocks and uncertainty. Job security, in particular, cannot be taken for granted any longer.

This makes it riskier for property buyers who lock themselves into a housing loan requiring a steady income stream over 20 to 30 years. If their income is affected and they cannot pay their instalments, they have no option but to sell or have the banks foreclose, even if their problems are only temporary.

So, let's give Singaporeans the choice of using their CPF contributions to pay rent. The appropriate safeguards and limits can always be put in to protect against any abuse of the system.

The writer is a retired banker and president of Credit Counselling Singapore. He contributed this view in his personal capacity.
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Old 26-11-2005, 04:45 PM   #801
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7 HDB blocks at Sims Drive, Upper Boon Keng Rd selected for SERS

25 November 2005 1929 hrs

SINGAPORE : Seven blocks at Sims Drive and Upper Boon Keng Road have been identified for the Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS).

Blocks 54, 56, 57, 59, 60 and 62 in Sims Drive and Block 20 in Upper Boon Keng Road are 27 to 31 years old and contain more than 1,500 flats.

The Housing and Development Board will build 3-room, 4-room and 5-room flats at Bendemeer Road and Upper Boon Keng Road, making available a total of 1,670 new units to rehouse flat-owners affected by the redevelopment.

Registration for the replacement flats will take place end of 2006.

Construction of the new flats will begin in early 2007 and is expected to be completed by end of 2010.

Block 55 Sims Drive, which has more than 350 1-room rental flats, will be cleared.

12 shops and an eating house at Block 54 Sims Drive, plus a rental kiosk at both Block 60 Sims Drive and Block 20 Upper Boon Keng, will also be involved in the redevelopment scheme. - CNA
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Old 27-11-2005, 07:49 PM   #802
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HDB upgrading programme speeds up with 64 precincts chosen for 2006

27 November 2005 1814 hrs

The HDB upgrading programme will be on the fast track islandwide with the government pumping in some S$600 million to upgrade 64 precincts next year.

On top of that, town councils will also spend S$14 million to renovate 100 blocks as part of the Town Council-Lift Upgrading programme.

3,800 old blocks islandwide needed to be rejuvenated so there would be no let up in the upgrading programme, said National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan.

Two years ago, 24 precincts were upgraded.

This year, 46 precincts got a new look.

Next year, it will be increased by some 50 per cent to 64 precincts - 6 will undergo the Main Upgrading programme, 15, the Interim Upgrading programme and 43 precincts will enjoy the Lift Upgrading programme.

The opposition wards of Potong Pasir and Hougang are not included nor have they applied to use their town councils' sinking funds for lift upgrading.

Lift upgrading is heavily subsidised, and residents and the town councils also co-share the costs with owners paying no more than $3,000 per flat.

So. the announcement was music to the ears of the senior citizens at Tampines North Community Club.

And when asked if this was a pre-election sweetener, Mr Mah said: "The upgrading programme is a major platform, a promise of the government. We made this promise every election, not just this election, the coming election but every election - and the important thing is that we have to fulfil this commitment."

Tampines GRC also unveiled a S$332 million 5-year plan which includes fitness corners, covered linkways, cycling tracks and lift upgrading.

Tampines is representative of a middle-aged housing estate in Singapore, with an increasing number of elderly residents, where many blocks don't have lifts that stop on every floor.

To address this, the Lift Upgrading Programme will ensure that residents islandwide get lift access on every floor within the next 10 years so that elderly residents will enjoy easy access to their own homes.

The lift upgrading programme is expected to cost some S$5 billion over the next decade.

So does Mr Mah expect a contest in Tampines in the general election, due by June 2007?

He said: "It's a contest of ideas, contest of plans and programmes - let the residents choose and the ultimate winner will be the residents - so I hope yes, there will be some form of contest."

But exactly when the elections will be is still anybody's guess. - CNA
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Old 27-11-2005, 09:40 PM   #803
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It is good news but just hope they come to my block faster lor.......... if kena wait until 10 years sebei jaliat.......... you got news which precints will be chosen....heee
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Old 28-11-2005, 11:38 AM   #804
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Makeover plans worth $800m for estates in the east

Nov 28, 2005

Improvement plans for lifts, parks and community spaces fuel election buzz

By Tan Hui Yee
THE mega makeover of housing estates is picking up pace, as East Coast and Tampines town councils yesterday announced $800 million worth of improvement works over the next five years. Their focus: lift upgrading, parks and community spaces.

East Coast town, which comprises areas such as Bedok, Siglap and Simei, is set to receive more linkways, upgraded pedestrian malls and community gardens, among other things, to the tune of $500 million.

Tampines will receive a $332 million makeover, which will include a community space for mass events next to the MRT station, fitness corners for the young and old, as well as cycling tracks to connect schools and markets to parks and transport facilities.

Town councils for both constituencies opened exhibitions detailing their five-year plans yesterday. Their announcements, coming just one month after Aljunied Town Council unveiled its $160 million masterplan, are seen by some residents and observers as a sign that a general election is around the corner.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong did not rule out an early election when he was interviewed in September, though the Government has until June 2007 to hold the next one.

One town council manager suggests that some town councils may be deciding on upgrading projects now to avoid funding problems later on.

This is because money for improvement works comes from a town council's surplus, of which 80 per cent has to be moved to its sinking fund after each general election.

If the constituency is won by a different political party, the entire surplus is transferred to the sinking fund.

Once the money has been moved into the sinking fund, which is used for cyclical works like repainting, it cannot be used for improvement work other than lift upgrading.

Asked to comment on talk that the improvement plans were an election sweetener, Deputy Prime Minister S. Jayakumar said: 'People will speculate. But we, the MPs, felt, together with the town council, that the time was right.

'This is because the (current) five-year programme has ended and we have to embark on a new one,' added Prof Jayakumar, who is an MP for East Coast GRC.

Both East Coast and Tampines town councils' current five-year plans end this year.

Over in Tampines, National Development Minister and Tampines GRC MP Mah Bow Tan said: 'The upgrading programme is a major platform promise of the Government and we have made this promise every election, not just this coming one. The important thing is that we fulfil this commitment.'

Both ministers stressed that ageing Housing Board estates needed to be upgraded to remain vibrant.

Prof Jayakumar said: 'We have to continually upgrade, improve and make the place - both the hardware and software - interesting.'

Bedok residents like Mr Lim Boon Chong agreed. The 34-year-old production planner said: 'The renewal will encourage more young people to stay in Bedok instead of moving to other places like Punggol and Sengkang.'

At least one other town council - Jalan Besar - is expected to launch its five-year plan in the coming months. Its plan to liven up the riverfront along Kallang River and Sungei Whampoa - with gardens, jogging tracks and barbecue pits, among other things - is expected to be announced early next year.

tanhy@sph.com.sg
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Old 28-11-2005, 11:39 AM   #805
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Nov 28, 2005
$500m renewal for East Coast

By Tan Hui Yee
IN THE next five years, residents of East Coast GRC will get better neighbourhood parks and more green spaces besides separate improvements at the popular East Coast Park nearby.

Under East Coast Town Council's $500 million renewal plan, launched yesterday, four neighbourhood parks in Bedok, Simei and Changi will be upgraded, while three community gardens will be set up to encourage bonding among residents.

Council chairman, Mr Chew Heng Ching, also revealed plans to make park connectors - paths linking different parks - more accessible to residents.

The council's current five-year plan, which involves $380 million worth of improvement work, ends this year.

While the current plan focuses on sprucing up the common areas of Housing Board blocks, the new one will concentrate on the lift upgrading programme - with lifts stopping on every floor in a block.

About $200 million of the $500 million plan will be spent on lift upgrading.

That is good news for residents like Ms Haslinda Abdul Jalil, 42. The senior administrative assistant, who moved into her Bedok flat two weeks ago, has no lift access to her sixth-storey flat.

She cannot do too much grocery shopping at one go because she has to carry the bags up one level, she said.

The council will foot $150 million of the $500 million plan, with the Government picking up most of the rest of the bill.

The council money will be spent on, among other things, making neighbourhood centres like Changi Village and Bedok Town Centre more pedestrian-friendly to encourage street life. Permanent shelters with stages are planned for these commercial centres.

Residents will also benefit from 69 more covered linkways, 23 new fitness corners and upgraded children's playgrounds in 64 locations.

Seven hawker centres will get better ventilation systems and lighting, as well as new tiling and toilets.

Security will not be neglected. The council plans to install about 60 surveillance cameras in areas like void decks and carparks to deter petty crimes like vandalism
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Old 28-11-2005, 11:41 AM   #806
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Nov 28, 2005
100 HDB blocks to get lift upgrade on town council funds

Govt approval given for blocks as part of Town Council Lift Upgrading Programme

By Daryl Loo
FAST track lift upgrading is coming to about 100 HDB blocks - with their respective town councils footing most of the bill.

This follows the Government's approval of the blocks nominated by the town councils, which was announced by National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan yesterday.

The Straits Times reported earlier this month that 12 of the 16 town councils had nominated at least 124 blocks for lift upgrading under the Town Council Lift Upgrading Programme.

The scheme, approved in July, allows town councils to tap up to 10 per cent of their own sinking fund for lift upgrading, and is designed to speed up the rate at which Singapore's rapidly ageing population gets direct lift access.

About 3,800 HDB blocks here still do not have lifts that stop on every floor, and the Government aims to spend some $5 billion so almost every block will have this feature by 2015.

To that end, it has picked 64 precincts this year for the HDB-run lift upgrading programme, said Mr Mah, up from 46 precincts last year. This will cost about $600 million.

The 100 blocks that will undergo the Town Council Lift Upgrading Programme are in addition to these 64 precincts. Town councils can nominate blocks that need the new lifts, but have not yet been announced under the HDB upgrading programme.

However, a block is eligible only if it does not exceed the cost of $5,000 for each unit that benefits from the upgrade.

As with the HDB-run lift upgrading programme, residents will have to co-pay up to 12.5 per cent of the cost. And at least 75 per cent of residents will have to vote for it before it can proceed.

Speaking at the unveiling of a new five-year renewal plan for Tampines GRC, Mr Mah declined to say which town council nominations have been approved. He said he will leave it to the town councils themselves to announce the details.

Tampines Town Council chairman Ong Kian Min said 14 of the blocks it nominated have been approved.

Its engineers are still working out the exact costs, 'but we expect to start polling our residents in the first quarter of next year', he said.

Hong Kah Town Council chairman Ang Mong Seng said he has yet to be told if the more than 10 blocks it nominated have been approved. But the town council has set aside about $2 million to upgrade these blocks if they are approved, he said.

The four town councils that have not nominated any blocks for the programme are East Coast, Jalan Besar, and the two opposition-run wards, Potong Pasir and Hougang.

East Coast has yet to nominate any as its eligible blocks are spread too widely apart, while the blocks in Jalan Besar are too expensive to be upgraded.

Potong Pasir chairman Chiam See Tong told The Straits Times earlier his town council was still studying its options for lift upgrading.

Hougang MP Low Thia Khiang could not be reached yesterday for comment.

He had argued in Parliament in July that the scheme was unfair as much of a town council's sinking fund comes from conservancy fees paid by residents, and he felt this meant residents will end up footing most of the lift upgrading costs.

darylloo@sph.com.sg



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
WHAT'S THE SCHEME ABOUT

The Town Council Lift Upgrading Programme gives the green light to councils to use up to 10 per cent of their sinking funds for lift upgrading. Such a fast-track scheme aims to quicken the pace at which the Republic's rapidly ageing population gets access to lifts on every floor.
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Old 28-11-2005, 11:42 AM   #807
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Nov 28, 2005
Community open space the focal point of Tampines' $332m upgrade

THE centrepiece of Tampines' $332 million upgrading plan will be a new 'community open space' right next to the Tampines MRT station.

But while that space will cater to all residents, the key group to benefit from the five-year makeover plan will be the elderly.

Costing $500,000, the community space will be completed in two years and 'become a focal point for organised activities for all Tampines residents', said Tampines GRC MP Ong Kian Min.

Currently an open field, the vacant site - about the size of two football fields - is to be covered with cement, and have raised platforms, landscaping and benches added.

Still, that half a million pales when compared to the bulk of the $332 million that will be spent making the housing estate more comfortable for elderly residents.

Mr Ong, who is also chairman of the Tampines Town Council, made the announcements yesterday while updating elderly residents on the facilities being built for them.

His fellow Tampines GRC MPs - National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan, Mr Yatiman Yusof, Ms Irene Ng and Mr Sin Boon Ann - attended the event together with about 300 senior citizens.

According to Mr Ong, some $227 million had been spent in the past five years on new facilities and upgrading in Tampines.

Under the new plan, about $200 million will be spent on the Lift Upgrading Programme, which adds lift access to every storey of a block.

Mr Mah noted that this was to make life more convenient for older residents.

Another $8 million will be spent on building more covered linkways between blocks, and 'more ramps with hand rails to provide ease of movement for our senior citizens', said Mr Ong.

He also noted that recreational amenities such as lounges in the void decks, '3G' (three-generation) fitness corners and pebbled footpaths had been popular with the elderly.

Three-generation fitness corners, designed with exercise equipment suitable for young and old alike to encourage greater family bonding, were introduced in HDB estates about four years ago.

Mr Ong said that the town council plans to add at least one such fitness corner - and a pebbled footpath - for each residents' committee zone in Tampines within the next five years.

Madam Ho Ming Choo, 70, said the new facilities will mean more options for her when she takes her five-year-old grandson out for walks in the evenings.

But more important for her are the new lifts stopping on every floor of her block.


The elderly resident, who now has to climb one flight of stairs to get to her flat, said in Teochew: 'The sooner they do it the better.

'Another few more years and I don't think I can still climb the stairs.'

DARYL LOO



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ELECTION CONTEST? RESIDENTS THE ULTIMATE WINNERS

'We always look forward to having some form of contest here, so that we are able to present our plans to the residents and to explain to them what we have done over the last five years, and what we hope to do for them over the next five years, whenever the election is called. It is a contest of ideas, and a contest of plans and programmes, and we'll let the residents choose. And the ultimate winners will be the residents. So yes, I hope there will be some form of a contest.'
MR MAH BOW TAN, on whether he expects Tampines GRC to be contested in the next general election
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Old 28-11-2005, 09:59 PM   #808
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Appeal channel set up to review valuations of resale HDB flats

28 November 2005 1738 hrs

SINGAPORE : Good news for flat sellers or buyers: if you think that your flat is undervalued by HDB, you can now appeal against the valuation and request the Singapore Institute of Surveyors and Valuers, or SISV, for a review.

SISV will appoint a panel of three licensed valuers to review each valuation.

SISV says that the procedure will give an efficient and fair review as it is undertaken by independent valuers who are not involved in the valuation under appeal.

But the market valuation of the SISV is final, even if its valuation is lower than previous valuation.

Still, it could also be the same or higher than the previous valuations.

During the three-month period following the SISV's review, no other flat valuations can be used and HDB will not accept new requests for valuation of the same flat.

Each application to SISV will be charged a fee of S$177.50.

This move will take effect immediately
.

For more information, you can log on to www.sisv.org.sg. - CNA
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Old 28-11-2005, 10:02 PM   #809
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Nov 28, 2005
700,000 HDB households to get $48m in rebates

THE SINGAPORE Government announced on Monday that it will give up to four months of rebates on Service and Conservancy Charges (S&CC) to eligible HDB households next year.

It will also be giving up to three months of rental rebates to households in one-room and two-room HDB flats, the statement from the Ministry of Finance said.

The rebates will cost the Government $48 million and benefit over 700,000 households, the Ministry said.

Households will get rebates of between half month's and four months' S&CC depending on the type of flat, to be given out in January, March, June, and September next year.

Those living in one-room and two-room HDB flats will get rental rebates of three months and 1.5 months respectively.

The Ministry said the rebates are part of the Goods and Services Tax offset package that the Government announced in the 2002 Budget. They are given out each year for five years between 2003 and 2007.

The Government will send letters to notify eligible households next month, it said
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Old 29-11-2005, 09:12 AM   #810
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Nov 29, 2005
More cameras to monitor void decks, carparks in HDB estates

MORE surveillance cameras will soon be installed in housing estates to deter criminals.

Fourteen town councils are working with police to put in place about 600 cameras in March to monitor areas like void decks and carparks.

The cameras, expected to cost about $1 million, will be placed at locations prone to crime like vandalism and theft. They will be moved to different spots when needed.

This could help curb problems like snatch thefts in common areas like lift landings, void decks and corridors, which rose by 39 per cent to 161 cases last year.

The chief executive of East Coast Town Council, Mr Foo Say Chiang, told The Straits Times the 14 town councils run by the People's Action Party will call for a joint tender soon to buy the mobile camera systems.

It is not clear if the two opposition town councils, Hougang and Potong Pasir, will do the same as both their chairmen could not be contacted for comment yesterday.

Mr Foo said his council will work with police to identify the problem areas in its estates before putting up its 60 cameras. The images captured can be stored in a computer for 30 days and called up when needed to identify a criminal.

The cameras will be selectively sited because of cost constraints, he said. The council will also ensure the cameras do not intrude on residents' privacy.

'We won't have cameras pointing at people's premises,' said Mr Foo.

The general manager of Tanjong Pagar Town Council, Mr Simon Koh, said the mobile cameras will be particularly useful in the high-rise gardens in the Pinnacle@Duxton, a landmark housing project with 50-storey blocks that will be completed by 2009. This is because they are expected to be heavily used by residents as well as the public.

The mobile camera systems will add to the growing list of surveillance equipment used by town councils in housing estates.

Tanjong Pagar, for example, already has about 10 cameras watching over lift landings in its town centres as well as secluded areas.

And more than 650 of the approximately 18,000 lifts in public housing blocks islandwide have camera surveillance systems. They are offered when lifts are upgraded.

According to the Housing Board, new apartment blocks are also built with facilities for the installation of such systems. Each town council can decide if it wants to install them based on feedback from residents.
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