Neptune Court’s residents approve appointment of lawyer

Residents of Neptune Court voted on Sunday to appoint law firm Tan & Au to undertake the privatisation of the sprawling estate.

Sunday’s meeting to amend the constitution, appoint a law firm and approve the privatisation committee lasted three hours amid heated outbursts from some residents.

One complaint was the alleged lack of transparency in how the Neptune Court Owners’ Association (NCOA) had gone about its plans.

“They claim there was an open tender in selecting a law firm, but none of us knew about it and it was done without our consent,” said a long-term resident who did not want to be named.

But addressing the meeting, NCOA’s president Tommy Wong, said: “We selected (Tan & Au) for their talent, experience and capability for detail such that owners will not suffer any financial loss … and their terms of no success, no payment.”

While the previous committee had consulted the law firm some two years ago, this is the first time the NCOA has moved to appoint it.

Some 250 residents, representing fewer than half of the 752 units, turned up for the meeting. In all, 205 residents voted to appoint Tan & Au while 20 objected.

The privatisation committee was endorsed with a majority vote of 146.

There is still some way to go before privatisation becomes reality, with the agreement of 75 per cent of all the owners needed. For now, the Neptune Court Privatisation Committee (NCPC) together with its lawyers plan to meet the Ministry of Finance – which owns the land – and Singapore Land Authority to negotiate a better privatisation fee, said NCPC’s chairman David Ho.

In 2007, the residents were quoted a fee of S$144 million to privatise the 99-year leasehold estate, but in June last year were given a new figure of just S$40 million, which worked out to roughly S$50,000 per unit.

Just down the road, the 480-unit Lagoon View estate last year was quoted an estimated S$12 million, or S$28,000 a unit.

Retired civil servant Yahya Aljaru, 69, and retired manager, Mr Fadzakir Fadzlil, 67, both of whom have resided at Neptune Court since 1975, are looking forward to privatisation and a likely en bloc sale effort thereafter.

“I will take it if they make me an offer I can’t refuse,” said Mr Fadzakir.

“I have simple needs. I don’t need a swimming pool, a snooker room. I will use the proceeds to go travelling and leave some for the kids.”

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 8 Feb 2010