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2nd November 2014

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Recycling, energy-saving to figure in green plan

PM says Sustainable S'pore Blueprint will help create a home 'all can be proud of'

Source: Straits Times / News

An updated blueprint to keep Singapore clean and green in the years ahead will be unveiled this week, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.

Mr Lee said he would withhold details till the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint is out, but hinted at what it might involve at his constituency's annual Tree Planting Day and start of its environmental awareness campaign.

Residents ought to be more conscious about recycling what they use and conserving energy, from using less air-conditioning to turning off the lights and even broadband when not at home, he added.

"The 'Cleaner, Greener, Together' campaign we are launching here in Ang Mo Kio GRC and Sengkang West SMC will contribute to our national vision," he said in a speech.

The revised blueprint will outline Singapore's environmental priorities and guide its sustainable development until 2030. The original blueprint in 2009 set targets for things like energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions.

Mr Lee said the new blueprint was "a plan which all Singaporeans will be part of. It's the way to create a home that we can all be proud of".

Yesterday, he harked back to Singapore's original greening efforts, and urged everyone to play their part, noting that it has been more than 50 years since Mr Lee Kuan Yew planted a tree at Farrer Circus for the first Tree Planting Day, which has since become a regular event in all constituencies.

"That was 1963. Fifty years later, we've planted millions of trees all over Singapore," PM Lee said.

"But we also have to do more than just plant trees: we also want to make the whole of the environment sustainable, friendly to people, and also (for Singaporeans) to be friendly to the environment."

Residents should think before they put something away as trash, and look at ways they can reduce waste, he added.

Mr Lee noted that waste and ash from incinerating trash all went to Pulau Semakau. The sole remaining landfill is 8km south of Singapore island and "only so big", he said.

"Pulau Semakau will become Bukit Semakau" should it fill up, he added, alluding to the scary prospect of the island becoming a mound of ash.

Mr Lee, in opening a community garden, also reminded residents that they had a part to play in stamping out mosquito breeding and keeping their town clean.

Also present at yesterday's event was Dr Koh Poh Koon. The defeated People's Action Party candidate in the 2013 Punggol East by-election, who is a surgeon, said he was invited by MP Seng Han Thong and would help out more in Ang Mo Kio.

"I'll probably spend a bit more time on the ground, just to see what are the areas that I can contribute in," he said.

-By Lim Yan Liang

Global Economy & Global Real Estate

Rail land dispute: Singapore accepts decision, says Shanmugam

Source: Channel News Asia / Singapore

SINGAPORE: Now that the issue of taxes on former Malayan Railway land has been resolved, Singapore and Malaysia can move on to work on future projects that will benefit both countries, said Foreign Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam on Sunday (Nov 2).

An international tribunal had ruled that Malaysia-Singapore joint investment company - M+S Pte Ltd - will not have to pay development charges on land formerly occupied by Malayan Railways (KTM) in Singapore.

The issue had gone before the tribunal after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak said in 2010 that the countries had different views on the matter.

Mr Shanmugam said: "We are doing so many other things together. That's the real point. It's benefiting both the people of Malaysia and Singapore. We have developments now and joint venture in Iskandar, they have (theirs) here - all being done together. It encourages people-to-people movement and more commercial activities. And really, two countries, being such close neighbours, we have to find sensible ways of moving ahead."

Mr Shanmugam, who is also an MP for Nee Soon GRC, was speaking to reporters at the Active Ageing Carnival in his constituency. 

- CNA/ir

Arbitration the ‘sensible way to move ahead’

As close neighbours, S’pore and Malaysia have to find sensible ways of moving ahead, says Shanmugam

Source: Today Online / Singapore

SINGAPORE — Noting that having an international arbitration tribunal decide on whether a Malaysia-Singapore joint venture firm should pay the land tax on three former Malayan Railway (KTM) parcels of land here is the right way, Foreign Minister K Shanmugam said the Republic accepts the ruling and will move on.

He also stressed that with Malaysia and Singapore being such close neighbours, the governments have to find sensible ways of moving ahead.

“The process and the way we did it is the right way to do these things,” said Mr Shanmugam, who is also Law Minister. “We are doing so many other things together ... We have developments now and joint ventures in Iskandar. They have (projects) here, all being done together, and it encourages people-to-people movement, more commercial activities.”

The minister’s comments came days after the release of the international tribunal’s ruling that S$1.47 billion in development charges sought by Singapore for the three former KTM sites at Tanjong Pagar, Kranji and Woodlands will not be payable.

The land tax issue was one of the unresolved issues holding back implementation of the Points of Agreement that both countries signed in 1990.

Under a land swap deal struck in 2010, the three parcels of land in Tanjong Pagar, Kranji and Woodlands, as well as another three in Bukit Timah, would be swapped for four pieces of land in Marina South and Ophir-Rochor.

Both countries set up a company, M+S — with Malaysia’s Khazanah Nasional holding a 60 per cent stake and Singapore’s Temasek Holdings being in possession of the remaining 40 per cent share — to handle the joint development of the new plots.

But Malaysia and Singapore could not agree on whether development charges were payable by the company for the Tanjong Pagar, Kranji and Woodlands sites. The two countries submitted the matter for arbitration in January 2012. Under Singapore law, development charges are a tax on the enhanced value of land, resulting from the Government approving a development of higher value.

Referring to the impasse over a number of details in the agreement, Mr Shanmugam, who was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a community event yesterday, said: “For Malaysia and Singapore to move forward, we needed to settle this and there are so many things we can do together ... But there will be no confidence to do those things until and unless that agreement has been signed.”

He added: “The arbitral tribunal ruled it. We accept the decision and will move on.”

Responding to the ruling last week, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had said the full and successful implementation of the POA has paved the way for joint development projects and closer collaboration between Singapore and Malaysia. These include links in transport connectivity and trade and investment.

-By Xue Jianyue

Rail land tax: 'Both sides wanted win-win deal'

Arbitral tribunal notes S'pore had sought $1.47b levy on three plots valued in 2008 at $2.8b in total

Source: Straits Times / News

Singapore and Malaysia were seeking an agreement on the transfer of railway land that could be described as a "win-win" situation that would leave each party better off than before, an international tribunal has said.

The arbitral tribunal made this point in a 76-page document, called an award and published last Friday, that said Malaysia-Singapore joint venture company M+S need not pay development charges for three parcels of former Malayan Railway land in Keppel, Kranji and Woodlands.

The three-member panel disclosed that Singapore had sought a levy of $1.47 billion, in keeping with its practice of imposing such charges when permission is given to develop land that appreciates in value. A 2008 valuation had put the value of these three plots at $2.8 billion altogether.

These plots, and three others in Bukit Timah, were swopped for six new land parcels in downtown Singapore in 2010, which are now being jointly developed by M+S.

But the tribunal also noted that during a hearing in July this year, Malaysian witness Nor Mohamed Yakcop had conceded that even with the charge, the agreement was "a sweet deal" for Malaysia.

"Equally we believe that the deal will have proved advantageous for Singapore even if we conclude that development charge is not payable," the tribunal said.

The panel was chaired by former English judge Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers; the other members were German legal expert Bruno Simma and former Australian chief justice Murray Gleeson.

Their decision was made known last Thursday to both countries, which issued a joint statement announcing it last Friday and said they would abide by the outcome.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he was glad both sides were able to resolve the matter in this amicable way.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said both countries looked forward to working closely together to further strengthen and broaden their cooperation.

The award was later uploaded on the website of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which acts as a registry.

The matter arose from a 1990 agreement between both countries, known as the Points of Agreement, (POA), to move Malayan Railway's station from Tanjong Pagar to Woodlands.

But the move was held up over differing interpretations of several clauses until 2010, when a landmark land swop deal between Mr Lee and Mr Najib broke the 20-year impasse.

This deal provided for the exchange of three parcels of railway land spelt out in the POA plus three plots in Bukit Timah, in return for four plots in Marina South and two in Ophir-Rochor.

No development charge was payable for these six downtown parcels, because the exchange was done on the basis that they were of equal value to the six plots offered for exchange, taking into account potential developments.

M+S was formed to develop the new plots. Malaysia's Khazanah Nasional owns 60 per cent of the company and Singapore's Temasek Holdings, the other 40 per cent.

Malaysia agreed for M+S to foot the development charges for the Bukit Timah plots, as they were not covered in the POA.

But differing interpretations over whether the POA meant development charges for the Keppel, Kranji and Woodlands plots had to be paid saw both sides agree to submit the matter for arbitration.

Malaysia, represented by Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail, argued that the value of the three parcels would already be enhanced by Singapore's agreement for M+S to develop them according to the POA - not by the subsequent grant of planning permission - and so, there was no basis to impose a development charge.

Singapore, represented by then Attorney-General Steven Chong, argued the POA imposed an obligation on M+S to pay the development charge, in line with Singapore municipal law, to obtain planning permission. The tribunal rejected Singapore's submission.

But it said: "We hope that its resolution will be a chapter in the continued fruitful cooperation between the two countries involved."

-By Walter Sim

S'pore, KL look ahead as rail land tax issue is settled

Joint venture firm won't have to pay development charge, tribunal rules

Source: Straits Times / Top of The News

THE issue of taxes on land formerly owned by Malayan Railway has been amicably settled - and cited as an example of how disagreements between countries ought to be handled.

In its decision, an international tribunal said the Malaysia-Singapore joint venture company, M+S, need not pay a development charge on three parcels of former railway land.

The Singapore and Malaysian foreign ministries announced the decision - delivered by the arbitral tribunal on Thursday - in a joint statement yesterday. Both said they would abide by the outcome.

Both sides sent the matter for arbitration when they could not agree on whether the charge had to be paid for three plots of former railway land in Tanjong Pagar, Kranji and Woodlands.

These plots, and three others, were swopped for six new land parcels in downtown Singapore in 2010. The new plots are being jointly developed now by M+S.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday morning that Singapore fully accepted the tribunal's decision. He said: "It allows us to put this matter behind us. I am happy that Singapore and Malaysia have been able to resolve this dispute in this impartial and amicable way.

"The full and successful implementation of the Points of Agreement (POA) in 2011 has paved the way for joint development projects and closer collaboration between Singapore and Malaysia. These include links in transport connectivity, and trade and investment. I look forward to making progress on them, and working with (Malaysian) PM Najib (Razak) bilaterally, and in Asean, to benefit both countries," he added.

In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman told The Straits Times: "We believe this is the way forward in dealing with disputes."

Observers said the mature manner in which the issue was settled was a model for how others could handle international disputes.

The issue was left over from the 1990 POA between the two sides, under which Malayan Railway's station would be moved from Tanjong Pagar to Woodlands.

But this was held up over differing interpretations of POA clauses until 2010, when a landmark land swop deal between Mr Lee and his Malaysian counterpart, Datuk Seri Najib, broke the 20-year impasse.

Under the deal, railway land plots in Tanjong Pagar, Kranji and Woodlands - and three other plots in Bukit Timah - would be exchanged for four land parcels in Marina South and two parcels in Ophir-Rochor.

A new company, M+S, was formed to develop the new plots. M+S is owned by both countries' investment arms. Malaysia's Khazanah Nasional has a 60 per cent stake and Singapore's Temasek Holdings, the other 40 per cent.

These developments saw the last train leave Tanjong Pagar station in 2011 as part of the POA's implementation.

Malaysia also agreed for M+S to foot development charges for the Bukit Timah plots. Still, an outstanding issue remained: the development charge for the parcels in Tanjong Pagar, Kranji and Woodlands.

Singapore levies the tax for projects that increase the land value, and argued that the levy had to be paid for these plots. Malaysia argued otherwise.

Both sides agreed to settle the matter amicably through the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague in the Netherlands.

Malaysian regional publication The Edge Review recently put the development charge at $1.4 billion, but this has not been officially confirmed.

In their statement, both ministries said their countries "have demonstrated our common commitment to settling disputes in an amicable manner, in accordance with international law".

-By Zakir Hussian

Settlement of land case 'points way to handling disputes'

Observers say process of arbitration shows respect for rule of law

Source: Straits Times / Top of The News

DIPLOMATIC and legal observers have welcomed the decision by Singapore and Malaysia to accept the outcome of an international tribunal on a development charge on former Malayan Railway land in Singapore.

They cited how it reflected respect for third-party arbitration to resolve knotty issues and set the momentum for bilateral cooperation to strengthen further.

Former Singapore high commissioner to Malaysia K. Kesavapany told The Straits Times: "At a time when maritime and territorial disputes are on the rise in the region, this is a salutary example of the manner in which such disputes can be resolved."

He said putting the matter through third-party adjudication to resolve the matter was possible because of the cordial relations between both neighbours.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman also alluded to these ties, saying the agreement by both to abide by the decision was a major step to closer cooperation. "The understanding between both prime ministers is very good... We believe this is the way forward in dealing with disputes," Mr Anifah said.

On Thursday, an international arbitral tribunal decided that Malaysia-Singapore joint venture company M+S need not pay a development charge on three parcels of former railway land. The charge is imposed on the enhancement in land value, and Malaysia disagreed with Singapore that it had to be paid on these plots.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Singapore fully accepted the tribunal's decision and he was happy the issue could be resolved impartially and amicably.

Professor Robert Beckman, director of the Centre for International Law at the National University of Singapore, said he was pleased to read PM Lee's statement. "This shows respect for the rule of law and for independent third-party adjudication and it is a good example for the region as a whole," he said.

"This is how mature and responsible states handle international dispute settlement. They put their cases before a tribunal, accept the results, and move on."

Mr Alvin Yeo, MP and member of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Defence and Foreign Affairs, felt the outcome was "proof that the consensual approach to resolving differences in views can result in a 'win-win' situation".

"Any loss of revenue from the development charge would be more than made up (for) by not just the higher share of profits that will accrue to the Singapore side, but from the friendly relationship which is vital for any partnership to succeed," he added.

Former Singapore foreign minister George Yeo said in a Facebook post: "Disappointed that Singapore lost the case but stakes in good bilateral relations are much greater."

Dr James Chin, government studies director at the Jeffrey Cheah Institute on Southeast Asia, said it was a positive development at a time when both countries are enjoying very good ties.

Mr Wong Chen, head of investment and trade for Malaysia's opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat, said the decision by both sides was honourable, but called on the Malaysian government to be transparent on any gains accrued from M+S as it originated from a swop of Malaysian land.

-By Walter Sim & Shannon Teoh

London projects lure local investors

Among them is Battersea Power Station, which sold half its units set aside for S'pore buyers on first day

Source: Straits Times / Invest

Half of the units allocated to Singapore-based buyers for the third phase of the Battersea Power Station project were sold on the first day of its global launch.

The developer of the £8 billion (S$16.4 billion) project on the south bank of the Thames began showcasing 539 of the 1,305 new Phase 3 homes at the St Regis Hotel on Friday.

The launch of the development, which was designed by Gehry Partners and Foster + Partners, also includes exhibitions in 10 other countries.

Buyers here were mainly investors, said Mrs Doris Tan, JLL head of international residential properties.

Prices start from £495,000 for a studio and £3.2 million for a four-bedder, with penthouses priced on application.

Average pricing is about £1,600 per sq ft (psf). In comparison, Phase 1 homes had an average price of £1,000 psf and Phase 2, £1,800 psf.

Most buyers from Singapore in earlier phases also bought for investment purposes, said Mrs Tan.

The ambitious development involves transforming the old Battersea power station site into a complex of around 4,000 homes, 250 retail and food and beverage (F&B) outlets and offices.

The 17ha project, which is scheduled for completion in 2025, is owned by a consortium of Malaysian investors - SP Setia, Sime Darby and the Employees' Provident Fund.

As part of the launch, firms may also find out more about opportunities to lease office space as well as retail and F&B spaces. Some Singapore firms are speaking with agents on commercial leasing.

"We aim to find the very best mix of UK and global businesses to lease over 3 million sq ft of retail and office accommodation, and attract home buyers who want to live in homes designed by two world-leading architectural practices," said Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin, chairman of the Battersea Project Holding Company, in a statement.

Two other London projects hit the market here this weekend as well.

The St Pancras Place residence in King's Cross unveiled its wares at the Shangri-La Hotel yesterday.

The project by British developer Regal Homes is priced from about £1,400 psf.

About 28 of 46 homes have been sold to buyers in Singapore, Hong Kong and London, said Mr Richard Levene, Colliers' director of international properties, South-east Asia.

The project, which offers studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom homes, is a few minutes' walk from King's Cross St Pancras station. It is set for 2017 completion. The exhibition ends today.

One Nine Elms, which Chinese developer Dalian Wanda says will be Central London's tallest residential tower, went on show at Regent Hotel yesterday for two days.

The 56-storey building on the South Bank will offer one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, with prices starting from about £1,260 psf.

-By Rennie Whang