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This weeks' letters: Enbloc, town councils and leaky ceiling.

Letter to TOC (Dec 15)

If you wish to have your letters published, please send it to [email protected] Letters are limited to a 500-word limit.

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En bloc

I have noticed in my neighborhood, that HDB has “en bloc” old flats; but instead of demolishing the old flats they are refurbished into high end rental units. This practice does not sit well with me. Why are they making citizens take up new loans for moving to a new location and uprooting people from their neighborhood? Personally, it irks me to see that my old flat with its high ceiling and big rooms are now occupied by others who are paying high rentals.

Another example of such estates is the 2-3 bedrooms in the Bukit How Swee / Havelock area. I assume people staying in these units are not that well off, and by compulsory “en bloc” sale, they are force to move to another area. For those that can afford the new HDB flats, good for them. However, what about those who can’t afford them? Do they have to move elsewhere far from their work place (increasing transport fare?), away from their familiar areas?

I really feel like a second class citizen in Singapore sometimes.

Cheong

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The following letter was sent to the Straits Times but has not been published.

Town councils’ investments

I refer to the letter by Mr. Ho Yew Kee entitled "A mistake to overreact" (ST, 13 Dec 2008).

Mr. Ho said, "It would be imprudent for the stewards of town council funds to play it safe and place their reserves in fixed deposits or government bonds, as the returns would not even offset the inflation rate." He also said, "Corporate bonds provided a yield of 4 to 6 percent, but the corporate have different credit ratings".

In my view, it would be prudent for the town councils to invest in corporate bonds, provided that the investments are spread over several corporate bonds to reduce the impact of the failure of some of these bonds.

In fact, over 10,000 people were sold the credit linked notes. They were misled into believing that they were investing in a basket of 5 to 8 of the entities, which were financially strong companies or sovereign governments.

They were told that if one entity should fail, they would only lose their invested sum on a proportionate basis. If 1 of 8 entities failed, their loss would be 12.5%.

They were shocked to learn later that they were actually selling credit insurance against the failure of any of these entities. If any single entity failed, their entire principal would be lost. Instead of spreading the risk proportionately over 8 entities, they were taking 8 times of the risk of any single bond!

In addition, their principal was actually invested in a portfolio of 100 to 150 underlying securities, which could comprise of collateralised debt obligations of lower rating. This has additional risk to the investors.

The combined risk of failure of "toxic" credit-linked notes is very high. This explains why many of these notes have failed totally, compared to bond funds.

The stewards of the town councils, who have access to professional advisers, should explain if they were aware about the nature of the credit-linked notes and if the return of 5% is insufficient to match the risk. If the town councils were also misled about the nature of these products, it is their fiduciary duty to take appropriate action to recover their loss.

Several local government bodies in the UK were also misled into investing in similar high-risk products. They took legal action and were able to obtain a court decision to rescind the contracts. I urge our town councils in Singapore to do the same.

Tan Kin Lian

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Fed up with life!

We have been battling the HDB and our neighbours to repair our leaky bathroom ceilings since early this year. Now both bathrooms are leaking and the water seepage has spread beyond the bathrooms to the bedroom and dining room.

Letters from our MP and us to HDB and their head honchos and Mah Bow Tan including personal visits yielded no resolution to the problem we are facing.

We feel so powerless, at the mercy of our inconsiderate, unreasonable and uncooperative neighbour and having a lame duck HDB who has the power to enforce the HDB Act Cap 129 for our neighbours to act to prevent further structural damage but chose not to exercise these powers - consigning us to a LIVING HELL.

We have been pushed to the limit of our endurance and are speaking to a lawyer since HDB has gleefully now washed their hands off this 'difficult' problem.

We now feel cursed for having been born and bred Singaporeans who have faithfully worked, paid our taxes and did our NS.

Can someone please help us as the cowards at HDB are allowing our neighbours to dictate to them what they can and cannot do at the expense of our physical and mental health? We are in anguish and deep despair.

FED UP WITH LIFE

KK Han

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