Foreigners and the Bubbly Property Market

There is this symbiotic relationship going on between foreigners in Singapore and the property market. Foreigners, including PRs, are buying new and resale real estate. Foreigners are also renting in the prime 9, 10 and 11 to the suburban estates. Developers are happy, housing agents are delighted, sellers of HDB and private apartments are euphoric because these foreigners are snapping it up hungrily as Singapore builds itself to reach a population of 6 million. Imagine the immense shock to landlords and property owners who overextended in buying more than one property when populist rage for less foreigners in Singapore becomes policy?

The first to be hit would be the construction and real estate industries, besides dad-and-mom property investors as the foreigners would just pack up and go elsewhere. Nevertheless, nothing to worry for now as the government’s calm assuring voice that uptake of permanent residency and citizenship are slowing down i.e. there are still foreigners coming in and it is only that they are not intending to take more long term residence here, that’s all.

Still, foreigners are so intertwined into the local property market now, excluding the high profiles stories of Jet Lee buying a Bt Timah GCB. Their sudden departure is going to cause a serious property market correction. But that is a worry best tackled after the election the PAP hopes to think. Ask the PAP such difficult questions now, we should.

Dec 19, 2010
More foreigners buying new private homes
Low interest rates, stability help make Singapore attractive
By Cheryl Lim

FOREIGNERS were out in force in the property market last month, snapping up almost one in three new private homes in Singapore.

Market analysis from DMG & Partners Research shows that just under 30per cent of new private residential units were sold in November to foreigners or permanent residents (PRs).

This marks an 8-percentage point gain on the 22per cent seen in October.

The growth appears to come from Chinese buyers, who are increasingly making their presence felt.

DMG & Partners property research analyst Brandon Lee told The Straits Times: ‘They really started coming in during the fourth quarter of 2007. Previously their numbers were single digit, but now we have seen their group hitting sometimes up to 20per cent.’

Indonesians and Malaysians continue to form the bulk of foreign buyers, Mr Lee added, with Malaysians making up 25-30per cent of the group and Indonesians up to 25per cent

Fewer S’pore citizenship, permanent residency granted: report
By Joanne Chan | Posted: 17 December 2010 1853 hrs

SINGAPORE : Fewer immigrants were granted permanent residency and citizenship this year, according to the first Singapore Public Sector Outcomes Review which outlines challenges for the government.

Competition for jobs from foreigners, rising property prices and over-crowding in public transportation were among concerns raised by Singaporeans over the hot issue of foreigners and immigrants in Singapore.

In a sign that these concerns have been heard, the growth of citizens and permanent residents has slowed significantly to 1.01 per cent this year, compared to 2.5 per cent in 2009.

Recognising concerns over the influx of foreigners, the government has taken steps to manage this growth. These include tightening the framework for granting permanent residency and citizenship.

In addition, infrastructure for transport, housing and other amenities is being enhanced to accommodate gradual population growth.

The government has also said it will keep the foreign share of the workforce at one-third.

However, it added that with Singapore’s low fertility rate, the country must remain open to high calibre immigrants to boost the population and sustain competitiveness.

One sociologist said anxieties among citizens must be eased.

Professor Jean Yeung, a sociologist at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, said: “To affirm that local Singaporeans are the priority of Singapore society, making sure that their life is well taken care of, infrastructure is well, you need to increase the immigrants, but the local population shouldn’t feel threatened about it.”

Professor Yeung added that there has to be more education and outreach efforts to show the contributions that immigrants are making in Singapore.

Another issue for the government involves the CPF minimum sum requirement, where S$123,000 must be set aside for retirement.

In 2009, only 49 per cent of workers were able to meet the requirement upon reaching 55 years old.

This raises concerns over the ability of the elderly to depend on themselves in retirement, and the potential need for more support from the government.

Prof Yeung said: “Older people rely a lot on their children to support them. And now a large proportion of people don’t even get married or have children. So that means they are going to need to accumulate enough on their own, or the government will have to increase their support to the elderly population.”

The report looked at six broad areas, including sustainable economic growth and building a cohesive society.

There are plans to publish the report every two years.


Being Undiplomatic is being a Diplomat

The Wikileaks saga’s latest twist for Singapore diplomacy is Singapore diplomats’ opinions of our dear neighbours. Scroobal from Sammyboy gives an interesting insight to how Singaporeans are naively thinking that our diplomats should have kept their mouth shut, or at least uttered plastic pleasantries even in private discussions.

“I am actually surprised that people think that international diplomacy is conducted in a sterile fashion.

Nobody is going to turn up or engage Singapore if opinions are not frank and accurate when such meetings are generally confidential in nature. Such dialogues are not one way. It is a reciprocal exercise where you throw your opinions / intelligence and the other party reveals something that is of value to your nation and you.

The Malaysians, Indians, Thais, Japanese etc will doing the exact same thing to us – a tyrant running a tiny country, a nepotism with a facade of meritocracy, a family corporate pretending to be a democracy etc.

Comments made by high ranking individuals are valuable and are usually accurate. Kausikan, Ho and Koh were PS at that time.

The disgrace however is the Americans who fail to secure such reports that even a private can access it and its a huge hoard. Look at the American Embassy at Napier Road – built like a prison and yet one private managed to release it to the world.”


Malaysia wants to continue good ties with Singapore
By Channel NewsAsia’s Malaysia bureau chief Melissa Goh | Posted: 14 December 2010 2001 hrs

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Anifah Aman says his country wants to continue good relations with Singapore.

He said this exclusively to Channel NewsAsia on Tuesday, after handing over a protest note to the Singapore High Commissioner to Malaysia over unflattering remarks reportedly made by Singapore officials about Malaysian officials and leaders.

The remarks were revealed by whistle-blower WikiLeaks and published in an Australian daily.

Two days after the WikiLeaks reports were widely covered by Malaysian newspapers, Mr Anifah summoned the Singapore High Commissioner T Jasudesan to Wisma Putra and handed him the protest note.

Mr Anifah told Channel NewsAsia that he is disappointed with the remarks. “This is totally uncalled for and unjustifiable – remarks made by senior officials of foreign ministry. And I don’t see how this kind of remarks will help bilateral relations between Malaysia and Singapore.”

He added that these Singapore officials did not understand the complexity of governing Malaysia. “I’m especially disappointed and very concerned, and there’s our displeasure about how Singapore does not consider the feelings of their neighbours. Now, for relationship to function, to improve, it has to be both sides, not just Malaysia, making an effort to have a better relationship.”

Mr Anifah went on to say: “You must have due respect for your neighbours. You must be equally concerned (that) what’s happening in Malaysia could also affect Singapore. So for that matter….I’m saying, by criticising us at the back, does it really help? Are you really honest about improving the relationship? Are you honest in cementing the good relationship between the two leaders (of Singapore and Malaysia)…..(so as) to move into a direction that will benefit both countries and the people?”

Relations have been warming up between Malaysia and Singapore, after a significant milestone was achieved in September when both sides inked a landmark land swap agreement, freeing up chunks of railway land for joint development.

Since then, both Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak have reiterated their commitments to ushering in a new era in bilateral relations.

While Kuala Lumpur remains committed, Mr Anifah said Singapore will have to do more to convince its neighbour.

“I must say that I’m encouraged by the relationship between the two Prime Ministers – Malaysia and Singapore – and I have a very good relationship with the minister of foreign affairs in Singapore. But, I don’t think we can also tolerate this either (unflattering remarks allegedly made by Singapore officials about Malaysian officials and leaders). So that’s where we are, and I very much want to hear from Singapore their views on this.”

Separately, Malaysia’s opposition Parti Keadilan has also formally registered its complaint at the Singapore High Commission.

Its vice-president, Tian Chua, handed over a protest note to an embassy official over comments allegedly made by Singapore leaders about its de-facto leader, Anwar Ibrahim.

In Singapore, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) clarified that specific complaints raised by Malaysia on comments allegedly made by senior Singapore diplomats leaked by WikiLeaks did not tally with its own records.

The MFA added that one purported meeting did not even take place.

The ministry also said that Foreign Affairs Minister George Yeo had telephoned Minister Anifah to clarify Singapore’s policy of not commenting on leaks.

Both Mr Yeo and Mr Anifah agreed on the importance of good bilateral relations and strengthening cooperation further, said MFA.

Political watchers such as Yang Razali Kassim – Senior Fellow at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies – say the protest lodged by Malaysia is virtually unprecedented in the history of Singapore-Malaysia ties.

But they say that just like past tensions, both sides are likely to resolve their differences.

On Sunday, Mr Yeo had dismissed the leaked comments as “cocktail talk” and stressed the WikiLeaks episode will not harm Singapore’s relationship with its neighbours.