Centrale 8 [Photo: SIm Lian Group website]

Director of property developers on HDB Board?


Centrale 8 [Photo: SIm Lian Group website]
Centrale 8 [Photo: SIm Lian Group website]
Mr Heng Swee Keat will lead a task force to look into the complaints of homeowners at Centrale 8, the Design, Build, and Sell Scheme (DBSS) development in Tampines.

Mr Heng Swee Keat, the Member of Parliament of the area and who is also the Minister of Education, will “supervise” the task force which is being set up after residents there raised unhappiness over many defects in their homes.

The task force will “comprise members of the Tampines Citizens’ Consultative Committee (CCC) and representatives from various agencies such as the Tampines Town Council and the Housing Board”, according to news reports.

The 708-unit Centrale 8 is built by the Sim Lian Group (SLG).

SLG was also the first developer to build Singapore’s first DBSS flats, the [email protected], in 2006.

Questions are being raised about the roles of one of its directors, Dr Sim Loo Lee, who was apparently also a member of the Board of Directors of the Housing and Development Board (HDB) until 2008/2009.

TR Emeritus reports, “According to Sim Lian’s annual report, Dr Sim Loo Lee has been a director of Sim Lian Group since 2003. She also owns shares in the company.”

More precisely, Dr Sim is a non-executive director of the Board, according to its 2014 Annual Report.

According to this website’s definition of “non-executive director”, he or she does not participate in the day-to-day management of the firm.

However, it also says:

“He or she is usually involved in planning and policy making, and is sometimes included to lend prestige to the firm due to his or her standing in the community. Non-executive directors are expected to monitor and challenge the performance of the executive directors and the management, and to take a determined stand in the interests of the firm and its stakeholders. They are generally held equally liable as the executive directors under certain statutory requirements such as tax laws. Also called external director, independent director, outside director, or director at large.”

According to the HDB website, Dr Sim was appointed to the HDB Board in 2005, while at the same time being a director at Sim Lian Group.

HDB website
HDB website

“According to HDB’s Annual Report 2008/2009 (i.e. for the Financial Year to 31 Mar 2009), Dr Lim was still a director, but not in HDB’s Annual Report 2009/2010,” TR Emeritus says. “This means Dr Sim stepped down as a director some time in 2009.

“So, it can be concluded that from 2005 to 2009 Dr Sim sat on the board of Sim Lian as well as HDB.”

“The DBSS scheme was first proposed by HDB in 2005 and the first pilot DBSS site tender was launched that year,” TR Emeritus says. “The site for the pilot (i.e. the very first) DBSS flats were at Tampines Avenue 6.

“HDB later revealed that Sim Lian would build the very first DBSS flats called [email protected] Indeed, on its website, Sim Lian also proudly announced that they are the very first developers of DBSS flats.

“It’s interesting to note that the Govt did not consider the potential conflict of interests when it invited a board director of a developer to also sit on the board of HDB, considering that HDB tenders out parcels of public land to developers from time to time.”

In the meantime, SLG says of the complaints of homeowners of its Centrale 8 DBSS in Tampines, “We have been engaging with home-owners individually over the past months to address their concerns and we appreciate the many home-owners who have signed off their defects form acknowledging satisfactory completion of the rectification works.”