Friday, 11 January 2008

Opportunities are never lost; they are taken by others

A new poll's up on the public perception of the role of the Strata Titles Board but let me get the results of the last one in here first:

What do you think of the new amendments? (121 voted)
1. It'll make things worse - 6(4%)
2. It won't change anything - 58 (47%)
3. Why spoil a working system - 2 (1%)
4. Let's see how things go - 4 (3%)
5. A step in the right direction - 15 (12%)
6. Could have done more! - 36 (29%)

The title of this post may not be obvious to many people but if you look at the Money section of yesterday's Straits Times 10 Jan 2008, you'll see the relaunching of the tender for Pearlbank Apartments by Knight Frank, with the catchphrase "Opportunities are never lost; they are taken by others". You can read about the relaunch of Pearlbank Apartments on condosingapore here. Just for those who may not be in the loop, Pearlbank Apartments is an architectural heritage of Singapore, being the first all-housing project built on a URA land parcel. It's been shortlisted as having architectural significance in the recent URA Singapore 1:1 City exhibition and book (as indicated here and here). It was put up for tender in early August 2007 for $750 million but was unsuccessful. Now Knight Frank (KF) is trying again, for the same asking price of $750 million.

But that marketing phrase inserted into the ad (not present in the first ad) disturbed me. Let's think this through...

"Opportunities are never lost; they are taken by others".

Opportunities for what purpose? Obviously KF is referring to their very profitable business of 'urban renewal', having achieved their 80% mandate to sell the place. A few things to note though - in their first attempt in August, it was with much fanfare as they put up a full page top to bottom ad in the Straits Times, highlighting their triumphant ability to obtain a majority agreement and their intent to destroy, what to many architects and urban planners, is a historical landmark. It's just business to them after all - dollars and no sense needed. Now, their ad is barely 1/8 of a ST page. What does this say of their intent? Half (or rather 1/8) hearted? After all, under new regulations, KF need not put up an ad with the names of owners nowadays, saving them advertising costs.

More importantly, it's "opportunities" for whom? Again the KF is clearly intended for developers, although again this is a strange habit - one would've expected a well connected, and certainly a major property player in the market like KF, to have approached various developers to indicate that Pearlbank is going on the market again for tender. After all, Pearlbank is a huge estate and will garner the interest of only the bigger developers. So advertise for who? For publicity's sake? Maybe. After all, BT has printed the relaunching of Pearlbank (here).

But the question is who is left out? "Taken" by who? Who are the unsaid participants in Pearlbank? Perhaps I should rephrase their blurb to:

"Opportunities to own one's home are never lost; they are taken by others keen to profit from enbloc sales".

See the difference? Perhaps the ad may naively be directed at developers and the public, but underlying that simple sentence is the ugly fact that homes are taken by others with little regard for anything other than purely financial gains.

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