Centurion Corporation Limited’s Chief Executive Officer Kong Chee Min on Thursday (28 May) wrote to the Straits Times (ST) forum in response to an earlier letter that alleged dormitory operators have made vast profits through their unethical dormitory operations.
Mr Kong said that it is a “misleading” conclusion made by ST reader Tang Li who claimed that dormitory operators make “vast profits merely by maximising the number of people in a certain space”.
According to Centurion Corp’s CEO, the profit of S$103.8 million made by the Company last year included attribution from equity holders, the global accommodation business outside from Singapore, as well as the one-off items, which is a fair valuation gain of S$66.3 million that recorded during the fourth quarter.
He claimed that net profit of S$38.2 million from their core business operations was attributable to equity holders, adding that it showed more representative of their performance.
Noting the Company’s profit also derived from its global accommodation portfolio, Mr Kong stated that 42 per cent was from business outside Singapore.
“Returns on worker dormitory business from our assets deployed came to 6.57 per cent in the 2019 financial year; comparable to reported yields for other property assets such as student accommodation, industrial or data centres,” he elaborated.
Speaking about how the Company takes care of the migrant workers’ well-being, Mr Kong said that each workers dormitory comes equipped with gyms, indoor and outdoor recreational facilities, mini-marts, canteens as well as the “spacious and well-appointed self-sufficient estates”.
He added that the dormitory operators will also prepare programmes for active community living, such as sports tournaments, talent contests, yoga, and language lessons.
In order to meet the physical, mental, and social needs of workers amid the COVID-19 restrictions, Mr Kong noted that the residents are being supported with virtual activities, free Wi-Fi, and additional services through chat-groups, hotlines, and mobile-app solutions.
“It is understandable that regulatory standards that were acceptable in normal times now need to be adjusted, given new needs arising from COVID-19.
“A review of standards for dormitory operations can only be good for our migrant worker community,” he remarked.
Acknowledging that these improvements bear a hefty cost, Mr Kong asserted that these costs “should be carefully considered” between the Government, employers, dormitory operators, and the wider community.
Dormitory operators allegedly made vast profits through their unethical dormitory operations
In a ST forum letter published on 21 May, ST reader Tang Li voiced out that the dormitory operators should bear their own increased operating costs that incurred due to dormitory lockdowns and stay-home notices.
Looking at the profit of these dorm operators, Mr Tang said that these dorm operators have made vast profits “merely by maximising the number of people in a certain space”.
“If our system allows them to earn profits in this manner, should we not also allow them to bear the cost when the system requires them to adapt their businesses to new realities?” he questioned.
Mr Tang’s view concurred with an earlier forum letter written by Cheng Shoong Tat on 16 May, which questioned why taxpayers are footing the bill for the dorm operators who have been profiting for years.
The letter noted that the net profits of Singapore Exchange-listed companies Centurion Corp, Wee Hur Holdings, and Lian Beng Group from their dormitory and other businesses were S$103.8 million, S$34.9 million, and S$32.9 million, respectively, for the financial year of 2019.
Centurion Corp clarifies media reports in relation to its Q4 2019 and FY 2019 net profits
Meanwhile, it was reported that the board of directors of Centurion Corporation limited has also issued a statement on 18 May to clarify the recent media reports in relation to its net profits for the fourth quarter ended 31 December 2019 (Q4 2019) and full-year ended 31 December 2019 (FY 2019).
In its statement, the Company revealed further details about its net profit figures that was recorded last year.
“Centurion is committed to providing sustainable, safe and high-quality accommodation properties as well as developing management platforms and expertise to deliver living environments that meet regulatory and ethical standards, and are conducive to the mental and physical wellness of its migrant workers and student residents,” the statement concluded.