Friday, May 29, 2015

Smearing Campaign?

I am commenting on the article in Channel NewsAsia (link or read below). There are a few gaping loopholes in this article that are so alarming.

Without clarifications, it can skew a reader's understanding of the situation. Goodness can some investigative work be done before publishing?
  1. Were there handover issues from DBSS that put AHPETC into a risky situation in the first place?
    - This is akin to TOP date in Singapore where the developer has certain obligations to fulfil.
    "Temporary Occupation Permit(TOP) is a temporary permit to allow owner to occupy the building when the key regulatory requirements are met as it may take some time to obtain the Certificate of Statutory Completion(CSC). However, application may be made directly for a CSC when all the requirements have been complied with."
    - Without fulfilling the agreed handover items, how can any handover-takeover even happen?
  2. From my understanding on any house and land maintenance, gas pipes, electrical lines, sewerage pipes drawings and specifications are crucial to the maintenance team.
    - Were these items specified and required to be produced during handover and in the transition documentation?
    -  How can any operations team (in this case AHPTEC) takeover if one does not know where to begin a root cause analysis in a scenario of an underground water pipe leakage?
    - Just like when a solution has been implemented, the vendor hands over operating manuals, system manuals, technical specifications, etc so as to ensure that the team taking over can continue operating in BAU (business as usual).
    - Once the handover document is signed, any future calls/help required from the developer will highly likely incur fees and additional costs to AHPTEC.
  3. HDB said DBSS developer had to pro-actively help clean up the estate.
    - Does this mean DBSS under HDB as main contractor is supposed to be cleaning up the estate until handover is completed but has failed to do so?
    - There is always a contractual handover date whereby both parties agree on the handover items completed and to sign-off the handover. Failure to do so may void or delay the date. Onus is still on the team handing over to continue the support work.
  4. Was this ever brought up to WP MPs, AHPTEC or DBSS/HDB? What were their responses? Can someone please produce correspondences with them?
  5. Are we sure residents of Parkland Residences took it upon themselves to clean? Or did DBSS failed to do so thereby having residents to clean up their estates?
    - Reporting this is so important in this article but alas this is missing.
  6. AHPETC has been collecting for HDB on the S&CC fees.
    - This needs an answer with proof of receipts of collection from AHPETC to the residents.
    - Likewise when HDB says it has not received any of the S&CC monies from AHPETC, HDB needs to provide such proofs to the residents.
    - Should AHPETC be able to show proofs that HDB had in fact collected the fees, can residents sue HDB?
  7. Assuming it is DBSS-HDB  who failed to provide cleaning or to complete the agreed handover items, then this is not the fault of AHPETC.
    - To address the resident interviewed - just because one subscribes to Singtel but has never made a phonecall does not exempt one from not paying the phone bill.
    - Of course whether he/she receives a good or poor connection is an entirely different matter which needs to be brought up to the service provider.
But if what CNA reporting is accurate and it clearly shows AHPETC is at fault in failing to perform its duties (which I believe highly unlikely), then AHPETC needs to quickly address them and answer to the residents.

But the way this article is reporting, it kinda reeks of a smearing campaign.

"DBSS residents query AHPETC collection of S&CC charges (28 May)
TODAY reports: Developer Kwan Hwee Investment is also seeking reimbursement for performing the maintenance of common areas since November last year, after an impasse involving the AHPETC and the HDB.
SINGAPORE: For more than seven months, the residents and the developer of a Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) project at Upper Serangoon Road had to clean and maintain the common areas themselves, because of an impasse involving the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) and the Housing and Development Board (HDB) over maintenance documents.
Following discussions, the standstill at Parkland Residences was recently resolved and from next month, the town council will fulfil its duty to manage common property in public housing estates as stipulated under the Town Council Act.
However, as far as the residents and the developer are concerned, the matter is not fully resolved: Residents, several of whom had moved in as early as October last year, said that during that period, some of them continued to pay service and conservancy charges (S&CC), even though others had stopped paying as a matter of principle. Meanwhile, the developer, Kwan Hwee Investment, said it hopes to seek reimbursement for the expenses it had incurred for taking care of the common areas between November and this month.
The situation came to light after TODAY reader Julia Ng wrote to the newspaper last week about the problems she and her neighbours face at Parkland Residences.
Among other things, Ms Ng wrote about how residents were billed for the S&CC upon collecting their keys but “there were no subsequent reminders, and many of us have not been making payment”.
She added: “It did not seem required, since there was no maintenance as evidenced by the dirty corridors and surroundings, especially in the earlier months when many residents took it upon themselves to clean the corridors.”
Ms Ng said the residents understood that the development had not been handed over to the town council and that the S&CC “were collected on behalf of the HDB, which the latter denied”.
Replying to Ms Ng’s letter, HDB director (land administration) Koo-Lee Sook Chin clarified that the S&CC collected by AHPETC “are not collected on behalf of HDB”. She revealed that AHPETC had “refused to perform its duty until the developer handed over a list of documents and items specified by (the town council)”.
“HDB has clarified that these documents and items were not required for AHPETC to carry out its day-to-day cleaning and maintenance,” Mrs Koo-Lee said.
She added that as AHPETC had “refused to maintain the common areas”, the HDB asked the developer to clean the estate in the interim, “to ensure that the hygiene of residents’ living environment would not be compromised”. The developer has been cleaning the estate since Nov 12 last year, Mrs Koo-Lee said.
“Pending AHPETC’s execution of its duties to maintain the estate, HDB will work with the developer to ensure that the estate is maintained in the interim, for the benefit of all residents,” she said.
Speaking to TODAY, Mr Philip Tan, Kwan Hwee Investment’s project manager for Parkland Residences, confirmed that the AHPETC wanted HDB’s endorsement for maintenance documents - such as drawings of water supply and gas pipes and lift maintenance schedule - but the HDB disagreed.
Mr Tan said these documents are needed to assist a town council in taking over the maintenance of services. He added that the developer had deployed cleaners on a daily basis. “We hope to seek some form of reimbursements for the cleaning work that we have done since November,” he said.
Responding to TODAY’s queries, an AHPETC spokesman said the town council “agrees that there is room to improve the handover procedures between the developer, the HDB and the town council with regard to DBSS developments”. He added that the town council was “exercising its due diligence in the handover”. Nevertheless, the town council has since reviewed its internal process, he said.
The spokesman did not reply to questions on the S&CC, including which period was the AHPETC collecting the S&CC and what it intends to do with the S&CC collected. Residents at Parkland Residences said the situation has improved, but they recalled their frustrations in the initial months.
“There was a rat infestation at my block,” said resident Joyce Wong, 27. “The bins at the lift lobbies just started piling up because no one was clearing them. When residents complained, the developers took away the bins, but then we didn’t have anywhere to discard our rubbish at.”
Another resident, a homemaker who only wanted to be known as Mrs Chan, said: “We asked the HDB whether we should pay (S&CC), but they said they hadn’t handed over to the town council yet and were not collecting. When we approached the town council, they said they were collecting on behalf of HDB, but the HDB said they didn’t know anything.”
Human resource manager Sim Bee Lay, 39, said she has not paid the S&CC since she moved into her flat.
“We only received one letter and there were no reminders following that,” she added.

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