Here’s how much Sim Lian paid to clinch Singapore’s largest property en bloc sale in a decade

Built in the 1980s and privatised in 2002, Tampines Court has 14 blocks, with 432 maisonettes and 128 apartments. This is its third bid for a collective sale.
The Straits Times
At a reserve price of S$952 million ($688 million), the collective sale of a sprawling 702,164 sq ft Tampines Court was set to become Singapore's biggest en bloc sale in a decade just last week. Today, this has become a reality, with Huttons Asia confirming the sale to housing developer Sim Lian Group who clinched the deal at S$970 million - S$18 million above the asking price - according to a report by The Business Times. Each of the 560 owners of Tampines Court will receive between S$1.71 million and S$1.75 million, The Straits Times reported. These units range from 1,658 sq ft to 1,733 sq ft across 14 blocks. Huttons Asia is the marketing agent for the former Housing and Urban Development Company (HUDC) estate. Terrence Lian, senior division director and head of investment sales at Huttons, was quoted by BT as saying that the deal was reached "after one week of rigorous negotiation". The S$970 million bid comes with "conditions attached", but these were not detailed in the report. The offer works out to approximately S$676 per square foot of potential gross floor area, inclusive of two payments to the state. According to BT, one of these payments is to enhance the intensity of the site to a gross plot ratio of 2.8, and the other is to top up the site's lease to 99 years. The site currently has 69 years leftover on its 101-year lease. This deal is reportedly Singapore's second most expensive since Farrer Court was sold en bloc for S$1.34 billion back in 2007. For more information on the sale, read The Business Times.

Singapore rejects US academic’s appeal against expulsion

Ex-professor Huang Jing from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.
The Straits Times
Singapore - Singapore has rejected a US citizen's appeal to stay in the city-state following the cancellation of his permanent residence status after the government branded him as an agent of foreign influence. Earlier this month, Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) revoked the permanent residence of Huang Jing, then a professor at Singapore's prominent Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, and of his wife, Shirley Yang Xiuping, also a US citizen. Both had appealed the decision. The minister for home affairs has rejected their appeals and they were informed of the rejection Aug 23, the MHA said in a statement on Wednesday, adding that the decision was final. "Huang Jing and his wife will have to leave Singapore within a stipulated grace period. They will be permanently banned from re-entering Singapore," the statement said. The ministry's decision to revoke Huang's permanent residency this month was based on his alleged interactions with a foreign country with the aim of bringing about a change in the direction of Singapore's foreign policy. It also said Huang's wife was aware of his activities. The ministry did not identify the foreign country with which Huang was said to be interacting. Huang did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

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Washington - The United States said Tuesday it is seeking forfeitures of $11 million from companies that allegedly laundered money for North Korean banks that are subject to US sanctions. The Justice Department's complaints, filed against Singapore-based Velmur Management Pte Ltd and Transatlantic Partners Pte Ltd., and China-based Dandong Chengtai Trading Co. Ltd by the US Attorney for the District of Columbia, represent two of the largest North Korea-related seizures the government has ever pursued. The government is also seeking a civil penalty against the firms over alleged sanctions and money laundering violations. The actions by the Justice Department came on the same day as the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) separately imposed fresh North Korean sanctions against a string of Chinese and Russian firms for supporting Pyongyang, including the companies at the heart of the Justice Department's case. The Justice Department said it is seeking a forfeiture of nearly $7 million from Velmur Management and associated Transatlantic Partners over allegations they laundered money for sanctioned banks that were trying to procure petroleum from JSC Independent Petroleum Company. JSC Independent Petroleum Company, a Russian company, was designated by OFAC in June. The Justice Department accused Dandong Chengtai, which is also known as Dandong Zhicheng Metallic Material Co. Ltd, of conspiring to evade US economic sanctions on behalf of the North Korean Workers' Party. It said that the company helped facilitate the trade of North Korean coal, and proceeds from the coal sales are used to fund the country's missile weapons programs. An FBI investigation into the company found that Dandong Chengtai is one of the largest importers of North Korean coal in China. "These complaints show our determination to stop North Korean sanctioned banks and their foreign financial facilitators from aiding North Korea in illegally accessing the United States financial system to obtain goods and services in the global market place," US Attorney Channing Phillips said in a statement.

CapitaLand turns up the heat on retail by partnering Alibaba and Lazada Singapore

It's 2017 and the retail landscape is quickly evolving. To combat the "death of retail", retail giants are increasingly being forced to revamp their online and offline strategies as a whole, instead of treating them as individual business units. Local conglomerate CapitaLand announced on Wednesday (Aug 23) new strategic alliances with e-commerce giants Alibaba Group and Lazada Singapore to advance what it calls its "omni-channel strategy". CapitaLand, which currently manages 109 shopping malls across 54 cities, will be managing a new shopping podium and one office tower at Alibaba’s new 80,000 sq m Shanghai headquarters. As a partner, CapitaLand will also be responsible for the pre-opening of these spaces. Founder of popular e-commerce site Taobao, Alibaba is one of the world's largest retailers. While it is mainly an e-commerce company, the Chinese group with over 50,000 employees started dabbling in physical retail stores earlier this year. Mr Wang Tao, Head of Intelligence Building at Alibaba Group, hopes that the firm's partnership with CapitaLand will chart  “new frontiers in integrating online, offline, logistics and data across a single value chain to meet the needs of consumers”.
Alibaba's Shanghai headquarters
Capitaland Limited
According to president & group CEO of CapitaLand Limited, Mr Lim Ming Yan, “the key to unlocking the next stage of growth lies in blending physical and digital channels to create a seamless offline and online (O&O) experience that is sought after by consumers.” As even e-commerce bigwigs like Alibaba are moving toward combining O&O experiences in the retail landscape, CapitaLand itself is eager to become Singapore’s first omni-channel retail landlord. On Wednesday, the company announced that it would also be partnering Lazada Singapore to establish an online channel aimed at providing a seamlessly integrated O&O shopping experience.
A preview of the CapitaLand store page on
Capitaland Limited
If successful, this partnership with Lazada will give CapitaLand an opportunity to reinvent modern retail in Singapore. Shoppers who buy items on the Lazada channel will be able to collect and return their orders in special lounges equipped with fitting rooms and product-testing benches at CapitaLand malls. Mr. Lim says: “Even as new technologies disrupt traditional business models, real estate remains an important part of a holistic customer journey, as affirmed by leading digital players who are seeking to gain a foothold in the physical space."

Diabetes a hot issue not just in Singapore – here’s how tech and healthcare giants plan to take it on

The New Paper
Do you know anyone who suffers from diabetes? You probably do. By now, this should come as no surprise: the number of people with diabetes has been hitting all-time highs across the globe over the years. According to estimates by the World Health Organization, 422 million adults worldwide had diabetes in 2014, and 96 million of these cases were in Southeast Asia. In Singapore, a concerned Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong spoke extensively about the issue during his National Day Rally speech on Sunday. Today, one in nine Singaporean adults have diabetes, the PM said, adding that the sobering number rises to three in 10 for citizens above the age of 60. Moreoever, these numbers are not expected to decline anytime soon. With such statistics, many large corporations are seeing huge growth potential in the global market for self-management devices and technology. Rumours of Apple secretly developing its own such device have been rife. According to Business Insider and CNBC, the iPhone maker could now be designing a watch blood glucose monitoring feature to its watches. Similarly, in a bid to occupy this market space, Google's parent company Alphabet has also started experimenting with a contact lens that can read blood sugar levels in tears. If successful, these non-invasive products would truly be revolutionary, as the industry has largely failed at creating a glucose-monitoring device that does not need to pierce the skin or draw any blood to perform accurately. You know it's going to be big if even the tech giants are jumping on the bandwagon. Meanwhile, Abbott has reported optimistic results from the 2014 European launch of its FreeStyle Libre, a one-of-a-kind flash glucose monitoring system. The device can conduct a scan in a few seconds, even through clothes - completely eliminating the need to use the traditional finger-prick technique.
Abbot's FreeStyle Libre
FreeStyle Libre
In a study conducted over an 18-month period, Abbott found that users actively checked their glucose levels an average of 16.3 times a day - definitely way more than they previously could with a finger-pricking device. The health care company says its study also found that the ability to monitor glucose levels freely also resulted in a drop of average glucose levels, a reduction in hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia, and an increase in time spent in the optimal glucose range. The fact that the sensor is small in size (35mm x 5mm), durable and water-proof also helps. But the FreeStyle Libre still requires skin insertions, and is by no means cheap at a price of S$92 for a sensor which lasts 14 days plus another S$92 for a reader that scans for results. Such products show a clear indication of the trend towards the need for self-management devices in an evolving healthcare environment. With demand booming, corporations big and small in both the healthcare and tech industries are looking to fill the gap in a market which has yet to resolve the issue of invasive monitoring technology. While a clear winner remains to be seen, it's only a matter of time before expectation becomes reality.

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Coca-Cola, PespiCo and others agree to cap sugar in drinks in Singapore

Singapore - Seven major drinks companies including Coca-Cola and PepsiCo will limit the sugar content of drinks they sell in Singapore, as part of the city-state's campaign to fight diabetes. Singapore is one of the first countries in Asia to target sugary drinks, bringing it in line with many Western nations that have sought to mitigate the health risks associated with sugar through measures such as taxes and warning labels. Globally, beverage firms have been reworking recipes, racing to cut sugar and introduced more options to cater to increasingly health-conscious consumers. On Tuesday, Singapore's ministry of health said the seven firms had signed an industry pledge to remove by 2020 drinks that contain more than 12 per cent sugar from their portfolios of sugar-sweetened beverages. As well as Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, the companies include F&N Foods, Malaysia Dairy Industries, Nestle, Pokka and Yeo Hiap Seng. "In addition to this industry commitment, Coca-Cola Singapore is making an additional commitment to reduce the sugar content in our portfolio of sugar-sweetened beverages by 10 per cent by 2020," Coca-Cola said in an email to Reuters. It said it had been reducing sugar and calories across many of its brands, and offering more new drinks with low sugar content or no added sugar. Daily sugar consumption per capita from soft drinks has risen since 2010 to 6.08 grams in Asia-Pacific in 2016, with Singapore at 11.99 grams, according to market research firm Euromonitor. Consumption has been trending lower in Europe and the United States, but it is still higher than in Asia-Pacific. "Governments in Asia are actively promoting healthy consumption, such as Malaysia which launched its Healthier Choices Logo in April 2017," said Euromonitor International analyst Nathanael Lim. "Consumers also have an increasing preference for beverages containing natural ingredients with zero sugar." The World Health Organisation said last year drinking fewer calorific sweet drinks was the best way to curb excessive weight and prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes, although fat and salt in processed foods were also to blame. Among Asian countries, the Philippines has slapped levies on sugar-sweetened beverages, while Indonesia and India have been considering similar taxes. Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong mentioned the drinks makers' agreement in a speech on Sunday, in which he also urged people to drink water, eat wholemeal bread and brown rice, but did provide details.

Chinese visitors surprised by Singapore’s ‘backward’ transactions: Here’s why we need to adopt e-payments

Prime Minister Lee speaking at the National Day Rally 2017.
YouTube account of Prime Minister's Office, Singapore
Singapore is a technologically advanced nation, right? Well, yes and no, depending on how you look at it. In fact, some may even call us "backward". During the National Day Rally on Sunday night, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told the story of how Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say had a "suaku" (country bumpkin in Hokkien) moment at a street stall in Shanghai. Mr Lim was queuing to buy chestnuts when he saw other customers waving their phones when making their purchase. Thinking they were doing so to get a special discount, he told the stall holder that he would be paying the full price. Soon after that, he realised that the customers were actually scanning the stall's QR code with their phones to make payment through an e-payment system. In recent years, China has become a huge adopter of e-payment systems. Even roadside stalls and landlords accept payments done through mobile apps such as Alipay and WeChat. "In major Chinese cities, cash has become obsolete. Even credit and debit cards are becoming rare," PM Lee said in his speech. Data from iResearch has shown that a total of $8.8 trillion (S$12 trillion) flowed through Chinese mobile wallets in 2016, and this number is expected to grow massively over the next couple of years. Singapore, in contrast, still relies heavily on cash and cheques. Although e-payment systems have been introduced here for some time, most people and businesses prefer to transact using real money because e-payments are seen as cumbersome and costly to maintain. "We have too many schemes and systems that don't talk to each other. So people have to carry multiple cards and businesses have to install multiple readers," PM Lee said. "It's inconvenient for consumers, (and) it's costly for businesses. And the result is most of us still prefer cash and cheques. Six in 10 transactions are cash and cheques." This often surprises visitors from countries where e-payments have become the norm. "When visitors from China find they have to use cash here, they ask: 'How can Singapore be so backward?'," PM Lee said. The Prime Minister's concern is not a new one. In the past year, a number experts in Singapore have voiced concern over the city's less-than-enthusiastic reception of e-payments. When Business Insider spoke to Google's head of marketing solutions for Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines and Emerging Markets in July, he told us that Singapore's reliance on cash is a major factor delaying the rise of e-commerce here. Rahul Shinghal, general manager of PayPal in Southeast Asia told Business Insider on Monday that there is a need for Singapore to stay ahead of the curve - especially in the realm of technological innovations - if it wants to remain economically viable and relevant on the world stage. "Digitalisation of payments and processes will go a long way in improving systems and productivity, enabling our Singapore SMEs to stay ahead. Hence innovations in these areas must be able to identify and address gaps and pain points, not just innovate for the sake of innovation," he said. In a similar vein, Jayajyoti Sengupta, Cognizant's head of Asia-Pacific, called PM Lee's message "very timely", adding that Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative "must inspire bold decision-making on part of business leaders to drive digital innovation". Mobile e-payment systems bring with them a number of benefits for both consumers and businesses, ranging from convenience to lower operating costs. But with new technology comes new risks, and FinTech providers in Singapore must be equipped to deal with a new type of cyber risk. "Cashless payments no doubt deliver convenience, ease of transaction and allow individuals to better keep track of spending. At the same time, we’ve seen a rise in text message scams called 'smishing,' which can infect smartphones and result in the theft of personal information," Sanjay Aurora, managing director of Darktrace in Asia-Pacific said. While there are many cyber threats out there today, solutions are also on the rise, Mr Aurora said. Governments around the world, including Singapore's, are now focusing on how AI can be used to halt novel attacks. If Singapore wants to move forward in its Smart Nation initiative, it is imperative that the government, businesses, banks and consumers are all on the same page. The technology is already here. The only question now is: How do we move forward and embrace it in a way that benefits us? It looks like Singapore is on track to becoming a cashless society, but a lot needs to be done to get the movement going at a faster pace.

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