Monday, 23 June 2008

Enbloc Wars: A New HOPE - www.hope4stayers.com

One of the major disadvantages of being a minority owner or someone who is against enbloc sales (a stayer), and which the pro-sales people use to their greatest advantage, is the fact that often such owners are isolated from the processes within their estate, as well as other estates.

After all, the Sales Committee has the advantage of a professional consultancy in the form of marketing agents with plenty of experience in enbloc sales, as well as enbloc lawyers. Stayers, often in fear of retribution from neighbours, live in the shadows and are afraid of voicing their opposition. Sales Committees everywhere know this fact, and use it to their benefit. A marketing agent once told us (in my estate) that there are 3 groups of people in any enbloc estate - the pro-sales, the fencesitters, and the die-hard no-sale stayers. For the last group, information blackout is crucial - the less they know, the less problems they'll pose to the sale. Marketing agents concentrate on working the fencesitters and pushing them towards signing the CSA, but leave the stayers out of the loop. It's an unfortunately legal loophole, but they use it to ensure there are minimal problems. It's a time-tested technique used by most authoritarian governments and dictatorships.

Over the months, we've seen stayers gather within their estates to put up a resistance to their own sales. Some, such as Bayshore Park, are well organised. Others struggle to get their own groups off the ground. Yet other estates have stayers who WISH they could form a group but do not know how to. Some have used this blog and many other anti-enbloc blogs to connect with others in their estates, or learn more about the processes. But on the whole, it's been hard work for many, to mobilise a group, to keep themselves updated on what works, what doesn't.

In recent months, a group of stayers, FROM A NUMBER OF ESTATES, have started to gather together online. From (at last count) 11 estates, these stayers have decided to pool their resources to provide their collective experiences and knowledge to others who hope to stop their own enbloc sales, or at least keep their sales committees straight and above board.

So from now on, any owner who feels concerned about their own enbloc sale, need not be alone anymore. They have the shared wisdom of at least 11 estates who are in the same boat, struggling with enbloc battles. The group - Hope4stayers (www.hope4stayers.com) - aims to:

  1. share with selected invited subsidiary proprietors (SPs) of some estates our en bloc experiences and let each other know what is happening in our respective condos;
  2. disseminate information on the en bloc process, current legislation and other related policies to enlighten, educate and provide advice to SPs who are facing en bloc attempts in their condos and who are not aware of what the laws provide for;
  3. provide a morale booster for Stayers to deal with the dreadful hammer of the enbloc syndrome. (from their website)

Please do visit their site, and if you are facing problems with your own enbloc sale and you are a stayer, do contact them. They are well organised, knowledgeable people, most if not all of them professionals in their working lives, who have decided to devote their personal time, resources and efforts to helping other stayers in other estates.

The Hope people are volunteers, and they do not ask for any professional consultancy fees, unlike marketing agents. They are good people, and are genuinely passionate about helping stayers out there.

Give them a call if you are a stayer. Left in the dark. Left out of the loop of your enbloc sale. Need help and seek others who can help you.


You can read their Straits Times Forum letter below, which was a response to Jessica Cheam's article (blogged here):


Straits Times Forum Online
12 June 2008
En bloc blues? There's hope, says support group

WE REFER to the report, 'En bloc sales bring out the worst in Singaporeans' (June 1) by Ms Jessica Cheam.

We are a group of concerned friends who love Singapore and the estates in which we live. While we welcome progress, we also cherish the old and familiar.

Our cityscape has improved enormously in the past decades, thanks to the vision of Singaporeans and its leaders.

But for our communities to forge together in good-neighbourliness, roots to grow deeper and future generations to see Singapore as home, we need to preserve our homes. We need to retain the kampung spirit that binds us.

The recent spate of attempts in en bloc sales have impacted us in a way that is counter-productive to our nesting instincts and identity as a gracious society.

We need to stop perpetuating these negative experiences. We want to be free from the constant worry of losing our homes to those who see them as mere financial tools for increasing wealth.

In this spirit of proud home ownership and community living, we have formed an online community called Hope for Stayers (www.hope4stayers.com) where we share our experiences and educate others on the whole process of an en bloc sale.

As 'stayers', we hope that we can contribute to the ethos and values needed to enable Singapore to evolve into a truly first-class progressive nation, where the term 'prosperity' reflects more than dollars and cents.

Lastly, we agree with Ms Cheam's view that it would be prudent to consider a requirement for an 80 or 90 per cent quorum for an extraordinary general meeting to decide whether to push for en bloc sale. This is consistent with the current 80 or 90 per cent requirement for an en bloc sale to succeed.

This would establish whether an estate has such support from the very outset. The current system of 30 per cent quorum encourages a possible abuse of MCST funds in repeated and wasteful attempts at the en bloc 'lottery' and results in the depletion of funds meant primarily to maintain the estate.

We also hope that the entire en bloc sale process is tightened in such a way that it reflects and acknowledges the need for fair play and the deep-rooted sentiment that we have for our homes.

Dai Qiujin
(This letter carries 12 other names)



1 comment:

rebelrouser said...

Good to know that there are sound Singaporeans who appreciate their allegiance to their home, roots and homeland.
Homestayers should also consider forming perservation groups to maintain and upkeep properties that are worth preserving and campaign for the government to promulgate laws to preserve and protect our heritage.

I come from a generation who no longer can show my children when I return home from living in London , where my primary and secondary schools were located because they have been demolished, while my son could boast of his alma mater which has a history of 700 years in UK.

History and where we come from if preserved properly will give us a greater sense of identity especially for a young nation. European cities and countries are well known for their preservation of history that distinguish them from the rest of the world.

I have just returned from Provence where an English friend has painstakingly restored their 14th Century chateau to its glorious form. Such dedication to preservation is commendable.
The making of a culturally sympathetic and refined citizenry must begin with our awareness of beauty and history around us.