Sunday, April 24, 2011

Behold The Valuer

Commanding more dread than the exorcist, The Valuer cometh
Eyebrows were raised when National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan first announced that government was going to spend $400,000 to come up with a new name for Marina Bay. Mah justified the expenditure by waxing lyrical that it was a process akin to that of parents deciding on the name for their child. There had to be a sense of identity, a strong personality and a feeling of pride, or so claimed the minister then.

Jaws dropped to the floor when the new name was revealed to be Marina Bay. That was after the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and global branding expert Interbrand, supposedly spent countless hours meeting with developers, retailers, restaurateurs and other stakeholders, during which over 400 potential names were considered.

"We started off with (the name) Marina Bay and after looking at everything, the name that really tugged at the heartstrings was in front of us," Mah later explained. "The name itself is not new, but what has been used informally so far has endeared itself to all parties."

A marina is just a basin that has docks, moorings, supplies, and other facilities for small boats. Bay is just a body of water forming an indentation of the shoreline, larger than a cove but smaller than a gulf. What's so endearing about two generic words put together?

Just when you thought you had enough of Mah's version of Orwellian doublespeak, the Minister set heads spinning again by invoking the existence of The Valuer who alone decides how much HDB has to pay for land. In general there are three groups of methodologies for determining value, cost approach, sales comparison approach and the income approach. We are not told what accounting principles The Valuer is guided by, or how market conditions are determined. All we know is that The Valuer is appointed by the Selected President, whose tenure depends on the guy who gave him the recent $890,700 pay rise. At the sole discretion of The Valuer, large sums end up mysteriously in The Reserves, another Secretive Entity. The only part of the web spinning that is transparent to the electorate is that public housing owners are stuck with near private property sticker prices.


  1. Another Brilliant Write-up.

    Spent S$400K to come back with "Marina Bay" , Well there is one happy International company and a boost to the GDP....

    As to that mysterious Valuer & his Modus Operandi, bet you they are all State Secrets. If you & I know them, be ready to attend court.

    The late President Ong tried. They needed 50 man-years to tabulate & value al the Public Land all our Ministries building/ Schools/ Military Camps/ Clinics stood on.

    Maybe I am daft, but have all these Government/ State buildings & land been valued ? I stand , ehm, corrected.

    If not, why should HDB flats - a public Housing need to have the land cost added ?

  2. "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free ... it expects what never was and never will be."
    -- Thomas Jefferson

    "A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both."
    -- James Madison


  3. Tattler you seem to be someone who has some understanding of the valuation process. It is like a black box.

    The inputs are income statements, market conditions, accounting principles, historical data, etc. The output is a single dollar value, determined by The Valuer, who is not required to provide justifications for the price, nor the selected methodology used in deriving the figure. I've been through it before and absolutely loathe its lack of transparency.

    Although those who apply for land leases (i.e. companies, property developers) are given the exact value of the land, the sad thing is that buyers of HDB flats are none the wiser. Nobody tells them how much the land costs even though everybody else who leases land knows.

    Why the double standard?

  4. So finally he had to let the cat out of the bag by admitting that for every new HDB flat sold to us peasants, we have in fact authorised HDB to raid and transfer a certain discreet proportion of our CPF monies/loan and have them transferred into this huge sucking reserves reservoir which happens to have the sky as their limit.

    And it is from this reservoir that they pay themselves and yet that has nothing to do with our PAP Ministers, blame it on the Chief Valuer because he is the one who decides what fucking proportion to raid ?

    What fucking Ministers that we have had and now they are begging us to vote for them again ?

  5. The Chief Valuer can decide whatever value he wants. But when the house of cards falls, he will have collected his millions and long gone, leaving the mess for the people of Singapore to clean up.

    Japanese properties have declined as much as 90% from its peak in late 80's. A decline of such magnitude will definitely call for a revolution!