Ms. Go Hui Leng
25th February 2008
Urban Redevelopment Authority
45 Maxwell Road, The URA Centre
Defendant Name: Go Hui Leng
Reference to your letter dated 6th February 2008.
It is beside the point that the registered article was claimed as the fact was that I never had notice of the matter until the warrant of arrest which was sent to my home. I have already indicated that I am not the person running the business as the business is run by my husband and there are 3 drivers in that business. Even if the article was claimed by one of my staff there is no longer any way of identifying who was the culprit.
When I attended before your investigating officer Ms Fong Teng on 15th January 2008 to review the above case. I cited how I had always paid the fines in the past without issue or any escalation to such a stage in order to show that this was clearly a case of oversight that resulted in a warrant of arrest and also a fine of S$400/-. I was flabbergasted by her positions / assertions which were follows:-
In justifying her refusal to accept any explanation given, she used the following reasons:-
1. She asserted that any notice sent by registered post would suffice to be duly served whether or not there was actual receipt.
2. The URA checks for latest ACRA registered address before the A. R. registered 2nd reminder is sent.
3. The only grounds that an appeal will be allowed are if the company has moved and the registered letters were sent to an old address.
4. The URA does not consider past records.
Firstly we must take note of the following:-
1. Your letter expressly invited me to attend at the URA to review the case. Yet your office did not notify me of the narrow scope of appeal.
2. I am a mother with 2 young children. I had to find time for others to babysit my children before I could come to the URA. Only to be met with a brickwall on attending by your Ms Fong Teng.
3. Your office having to consider facts and information available is not incorrect. However your Ms Fong Teng had asserted that the only scope for appeal was for there to be changes in addresses only and proof of changes in address is necessary for an appeal to be entertained. It would seem that your Ms Fong Teng had misrepresented the URA’s position when she decided to not accept the reasons I stated for the appeal.
4. Your office by your Ms Fong Teng and your Ms Serene Chua in not addressing or considering this point is assessing the matter with fair consideration for a successful appeal.
5. If I had known of the criteria set by the URA, I would not have wasted my time to even bother to arrange to attend before the investigating officer.
6. That being the case, it begets the question of what would suffice to move your office to grant an appeal in the first place bearing in mind that it was by your office’s letter of 17th December 2007 that urged me to take time to attend to present my case on appeal in the first place.
This leads us to the following questions:-
1. What does the URA hope to achieve when obviously it would be inviting many people to attend to review their cases only to be rejected by the narrow scope of appeal set by your officers. The URA could have expressly stated its criterion for successful review in its letters to avoid wasting people’s time.
2. Furthermore, if the URA was indeed adopting a narrow scope of appeal and its investigating officers were acting as instructed, what then is the URA trying to achieve by creating the illusion of hope to the persons receiving the summonses?
3. Is the URA intent on patronizing our citizens by asking them to take time to attend at the URA with the illusion that an appeal / review channel was available with some chance of success?
4. Is the URA wasting taxpayers’ money by employing so many investigation officers to review cases when in actual fact its scope for appeals is so narrow that the bulk of appeals would be eliminated had the appeals / review policy been clearly stated to begin with?
Your reply of 6th February 2008 did not answer the above questions. Subsequently, I received notice from HDB on 12th February 2008 that your office requested them to refuse renewal of my season parking ticket for my personal vehicle [deleted] until my parking offences with URA are settled.
This is deliberately making things difficult for me and putting me in the position of incurring exorbitant per minute parking charges when I am denied my season parking ticket and when my car park is going electronic parking on 4th March 2008.
I am surprised to note how the URA practices strong-arm tactics on citizens in such situations? Do you think that the URA is acting in accordance with the law in doing so? In the event if your office might find justification in the law, does your office think that this is morally right to do so?
Given the above aggravation, I do not have any choice but to take this matter up accordingly.
The URA’s refusal to address pertinent questions will only put it in bad light.
Go Hui Leng
Go Hui Leng
18th February 2008
Bukit Merah Branch Office
Blk 166 Bukit Merah Central
RENEWAL OF SEASON PARKING TICKET THROUGH INTERBANK GIRO
Vehicle registration no. :
Account no. :
Season Parking GIRO Ref. :
Your letter of 12th February 2008 is referred to. You have denied me from buying the season parking ticket for the most frivolous of reasons. Furthermore, do note the following:
1. I am a resident in the area. I am entitled to buy a season parking ticket.
2. My vehicle [deleted] has a clean record; I do not owe any fines or have any outstanding offences under this vehicle.
3. Your office has recently converted the car park to ERP parking on the reason that it is done for the benefit of motorists. The ERP parking will commence on 4th March 2008. The parking charges on the normal rate will be far more than that of a season parking ticket. Is it fair for your office to force me into incurring per-minute parking charges without a season parking ticket?
4. I am in correspondence with the URA on the other matter. How is your office involved in that dispute?
5. What is the policy rationale for your office denying my renewal of the season parking ticket when I have an outstanding matter with a separate department on a separate vehicle? Are the government departments ganging up to pressure me to settle the other matter?
I am disgusted at the manner in which this is being handled. The season parking renewal has to be done on or before the 26th of each month. Kindly let me have your written reply before this date and it will be brought up to higher authorities accordingly.
Interesting…. but we’ve all really known this for a while, right?. Read this and find out for yourself.
I wonder if any of our opposition parties have woken to this?.
I wonder if the fate will meet the party at the next elections?.
Somebobody… since Today won’t accept his letter for print
must have, in frustration, circulated this letter…
This is an interesting article about HDB in Singapore. HDB
being the supposedly subsidized public housing program initiated by our
Initially was subsidized agreed… but these days? Where
does all the profits go to?
Note for readers:
1 Reproduced below is the full text of my letter to TODAY
Voices section — which was rejected(read: censored) for publication for
the obvious reason that I had exposed ‘The HDB Flat Pricing Scam’ (which not
many S’poreans are aware of).
2 Key Issue — The HDB (under $2m Minister Mah Bow Tan) had
used the clever term ‘market subsidy’ to confuse buyers of HDB new flats
into thinking their flats are ‘heavily subsidized’ (Mah’s own words) by the
In fact, there is no ‘cash subsidy’ at all and the HDB is
actually raking in a cleverly-disguised profit !
3 For greater public awareness, please help to forward to as
many people as possible and ask them to do likewise (for ‘the multiplier
More informed voters can then vote appropriately at the next
2011 General Elections to send a strong message to the PAP Govt to provide
truly-affordable housing for the people.
Original Text of my email letter to TODAY newspaper:
In his letter ‘Resale flats out of reach’ (TODAY Jan 17), Mr
Anthony Tan highlighted the problems faced by many first-time HDB
flat-buyers. Allow me to trace the root cause behind their dilemma.
As a 60-year old educated Senior Citizen, I surf the
Internet regularly to gauge the true concerns of young Singaporeans, who are
mostly hesitant to speak up openly.
I empathise with their growing despair on home ownership.
Many are resigned that private flats are now way beyond their reach. All
they simply want is a basic no-frills inexpensive flat — with enough money
left to decorate it to their own personal taste into a cosy home!
However, even with HDB flats, they are caught between the
devil and the deep blue sea — either wait 4 years for ‘expensive’ new
flats or else pay ‘sky-high’ prices for resale flats. They are rightly
concerned that a $1 million HDB resale flat may not be that far-fetched.
One worry is that, despite such high prices, few buyers will
feel the pinch immediately because up to 90% of the cost can be financed by
long-term home loans stretching up to 30 years.
So many seldom give a second thought that if they borrow,
say, $300,000 under a 30-year loan, they could ultimately cough up nearly
$600,000 in total capital and interest repayments.
Another worry: If a young couple have to sink so much of
their hard-earned income and CPF savings into their brick-and-cement flat,
how much monies will there be left to raise a family and sent their children
to university — not to mention providing for their own healthcare and
retirement needs in their golden years?
In the 1970s, the starting graduate salary was $1000 per
month. Then, in the HDB Marine Parade Estate, prices of new 5-rm, 4-rm and
3-rm flats were $35,000, $20,000 and $17,000 respectively. In 1990, average
price of new 5-rm flats was $70,000. Such prices then reflected a
‘cost-based pricing approach’.
Now, starting graduate salary is 3 times higher at $3,000
per month but prices of similar HDB new flats have gone up by 10 times to 30
times. The massive price hikes were largely the result of the HDB switching
over to a ‘market-based pricing approach’.
Since 2002, many have queried the HDB in newspaper forums on
how its new flats are actually priced. Last December, the HDB finally
confirmed that ‘the prices of new HDB flats are based on the market prices
of resale HDB flats, and not their costs of construction.’
This is a simple-to-understand example using data from 2000,
when 5-rm new flats were priced upwards of $200,000.
However, from actual tendered contracts of HDB Building
Contractors, the Construction Cost per flat was about $50,000. Adding on an
estimated $70,000 for Land Cost & Other Related Costs, the Total Breakeven
Cost per flat was about $120,000 — which HDB should set as the selling
price, since it is supposed to be a not-for-profit, low-cost public housing
But, under the market-based pricing approach, HDB will first
look at the then prevailing market price of, say $260,000 of a 5-rm resale
flat. It will then pick a lower figure of, say $200,000 as the selling price
for the 5-rm new flat — never mind if its actual Total Breakeven Cost was
The HDB can then say the new flat buyer is getting a ‘market
subsidy’ of $60,000 arising from the difference between the resale flat
price and new flat price. Notice, under such an approach, there is
absolutely no ‘cash subsidy’ granted at all to the new flat buyer. Instead,
the HDB is actually collecting a profit of $80,000 per flat (representing a
67% profit margin). In contrast, private developers normally earn around 20%
profit margin for assuming business risks.
Most importantly, this HDB market-based pricing approach had
resulted in new flat prices and resale flat prices chasing each other in an
upward spiral —- that is financially disadvantageous to buyers of both new
and resale flats.
Should HDB deem the above example as simplistic or
misleading, the onus lies with it to rebut and substantiate with its own
HDB should also provide its public response to this
remaining burning question — Why is the HDB not really helping first-time
buyers of new flats by passing on to them the substantial cost-savings from
economies-of-scale in massive HDB developments through pricing new flats on
a ‘cost-based break-even’ approach?
We have also since moved from small ‘pigeon-holes’ to tiny
‘bee-hives’ — extremely costly beehives, to be precise! HDB new flats are
now built smaller, closer and at higher price.
The HDB itself had stopped building the larger 1200 sq ft
5-room and 1400 sq ft Executive flats. Current prices of 1000 sq ft 4-rm HDB
new flats range from $200,000 (in Senkang) to $400,000 (in Telok Blangah)
and up to the whopping $590,000 (in Boon Keng, under Design, Build and Sell
Scheme by private developer).
Our politicians constantly exhort Singaporeans to treat
Singapore as ‘home’ literally and figuratively. To help solve our
Procreation Problem, young couples are also reminded not to delay marriage
and have three or more children. Pray tell us how do you squeeze two
parents, three children, one maid and possibly one or two elderly in-laws in
a 1000 sq ft ‘bee-hive’?
When young, educated and mobile Singaporeans are
short-changed on such basic ‘quality of life’ aspirations as a
truly-affordable and decent-size home for their loved ones, is it any wonder
many are contemplating to be ‘quitters’ rather than ‘stayers’?
Domestic Maids, Mas Selamat and Why Wong Kan Seng Should Be Fined
Pardon the slightly bizarre title of this post. In a roundabout way, it was
inspired by the following article from Today:
2 years on, employers still skirt day-off clause
Should there be a law to get employers to comply?
Friday * April 25, 2008
NEWLY arrived, a maid asked her employer if she could get a rest day. Her
employer was incredulous.
“If I wanted to give my maid a day off, I would have hired one from another
country,” said the employer, who had signed her up on the assumption
that maids of some nationalities were more pliant than others.
Faced with an employment contract that requires them to either give their
maids a rest day, or compensate them accordingly for working, some
Singaporean employers have sought ways to get around the terms or
extract the most from their workers.
And this begs the question of how much has truly changed for the 170,000
foreign domestic workers in our midst – two years after the industry
association put together a standard contract requiring employers to give
maids at least one day off a month.
A Today straw poll of 50 employers found that only 62 per cent gave their
maids a rest day.
With some industry watchers criticising the rest-day clause as being too
flexible, should legislation be put in place to mandate the issue? ….
There are several simple reasons why many Singaporean employers are
reluctant to give their maids a day off.
You see, if the maid runs away, the government will fine the employer
$5,000. If the maid commits a crime such as shoplifting, the government
will fine the employer $5,000.
If the maid is caught having sex with someone, the government will fine the
employer $5,000. If the maid gets pregnant, the government will also fine
the employer $5,000.
(Oh, and you have to send your maid for a pregnancy test every six months).
If you didn’t know any of the above, then either you do not employ a maid,
or you didn’t read the small print of the Manpower Ministry’s work
Many employers are afraid that if their maid has a day off and gets into
trouble, the employer will not only have to solve the trouble, but also
have to fork out $5,000 as a free gift to the government.
(Not that the government will then help you solve the trouble. It’s just a
fine, plain & simple).
Intuitively, this smacks of gross unfairness. The employer gets punished
something he did, but for something that somebody else (the maid) did.
Furthermore, once the maid leaves the employer’s residence, the
employer has no way of monitoring where the maid goes and what she does
To encourage employers to give their maids a day off, the government needs
to change these ridiculous rules.
I agree that employers should be fined and punished, if they fail to
perform their responsibilities as employers – for example, paying the
maid’s salary on time; providing adequate food and accommodation; and
ensuring a safe, secure working environment.
But employers should not be held responsible, for things that a maid may
do, of her own free will. When the maid goes out on her rest day, the
simply has no viable way to ensure that she will not do anything that
breaches her work permit conditions.
(Which, by the way, are quite extensive and onerous).
We may draw a curious parallel with Mas Selamat’s escape, and PM Lee’s
determined, if muddled, defence of Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng
Mas Selamat ran away. But PM Lee said that Wong Kan Seng was not at fault
and should not be punished in any way. The reason being that Wong Kan Seng
personally did not do anything which allowed Mas Selamat to escape.
Strangely, if your maid runs away, it IS your fault and you SHOULD be
punished. Even if you did not personally do anything to let her run away
(apart from giving her a day off).
Similarly, if your maid becomes pregnant, it IS your fault and you SHOULD
be punished. Even if you did not personally do anything to make her
Oh well. What can I say? Maids are not terrorists. But then you are not
Wong Kan Seng. So the rules remain stacked against you. Wong Kan Seng gets
off lightly, but you won’t. Even if his lapse has far greater, and graver,
implications than yours.
Your runaway maid wouldn’t blow up Changi Airport, would she?
Date: Mon, 5 May 2008 18:06:37 +0800 (CST)
Subject: Re: UNRESOLVED ISSUES ARISING FROM BLOCK VISIT ON 4th September 2007
To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
CC: “Yam Keng Baey”
Dear Sir / Madam (Tanjong Pagar GRC),
No reply till to date..
Perhaps you might have overlooked this due to the recent COI report, high inflation concerns troubling your party, but as a constituent in your ward, I believe I should not be ignored.
Let this be my first reminder to Tanjong Pagar GRC. My MP Baey Yam Keng failed to reply me and I do hope the GRC will not.
Looking forward to your reply.