Neptune showdown

In stark contrast to the serenity of the nearby East Coast Park, a stormy en bloc tussle is brewing at the 752-unit Neptune Court estate — complete with threats of a police report and potential lawsuits.

Some 100 owners who do not want to move have roped in lawyer Edmond Pereira to prevent their interests “from being circumvented”.

Meanwhile, eight members of the original committee — nominated by residents to consider the en bloc sale — have broken away and formed their own pro tem sale committee, in hopes of hastening the process.

A showdown is slated for Sunday, when the breakaway group, which has appointed its own lawyer and property consultant, starts garnering signatures for its Collective Sale Agreement.

Out to stop them are what’s left of the original committee who — having roped in more members, and with the backing of the Neptune Court Owners’ Association — have urged residents not to sign.

At least 600 owners, or 80 per cent of the estate, must agree to sell the 32-year-old development, for the bid to go through.

Representing the “stayers”, resident Philip Williams is also one of the two remaining members of the original committee, which he maintains is the bona fide one.

Prior to the rift, he alleged, proceedings were not transparent. Mr Williams claimed he was “excluded from the meetings”. His attempt to get the committee disbanded failed.

The managing director, who has lived at Neptune Court for 15 years, told Today: “What we want now is to work with the owners’ association and follow the due process in accordance with the resolution, where strict conditions were laid down for residents to vote on the selection of lawyers and property agents.”

The en bloc bid was initiated last year on a cordial note, when residents elected a 10-men committee to study the possibility.

But after an acrimonious year’s impasse, things came to a head last Saturday, when eight committee members quit to form a pro-tem sale committee. The reason: They disagreed with the owners association’s decision to call for another round of proposals from real estate agencies.

The breakaway group explained, in a letter to residents, that they had invited proposals from 12 real estate agencies before deciding on one by law firm Phang & Co and property consultants Chesterton, which they felt was the “most likely” to meet owners’ needs.

The group said: “Timing is important, if not crucial, for this collective sale exercise. Some of us feel the re-invitation is not necessary, given the work that has gone into the due process and diligence by the committee.”

But on Tuesday, the owners’ association shot back with a circular describing the actions of the breakaway group as “most regrettable”.

The association, which is seeking legal advice, said it wants the “assurance that owners have been given a chance to listen to more presentations” before making “a truly informed choice”. It would not accept responsibility the actions of the “self-appointed” committee.

On his part, Mr Williams wants the breakaway group to hand over documents pertaining to the sale — failing which, he said, he would make a police report.

But the group’s lawyer S K Phang, who runs Phang & Co, said they have refused as they “do not know in which capacity” Mr Williams had made the request.

Dr Phang is also seeking legal advice over a flyer distributed by Mr Williams, in which he had purportedly made disparaging remarks. Said the lawyer: “I need to protect my professional reputation and that of my law firm… subject to the advice, I will have to ask the person or persons responsible for the malicious libel to withdraw the same and for an apology.”

He noted that Mr Williams’ earlier failure to dissolve the original sale committee was a sign it had residents’ “strong support”. According to Dr Phang, the breakaway group has conducted three dialogue sessions attended by some 600 residents.

Source: Today, 10 May 2007

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