Singapore

Tensions rise amid Pine Grove's bid to sell en bloc

Residents form factions, lawsuit served at Pine Grove condo

An ongoing attempt to sell Pine Grove condominium en bloc has turned ugly with residents reporting heated meetings, residents forming factions and a lawsuit pitting the chairman of the management committee against the chairman of the committee set up to manage the sale.

The Straits Times understands that Ms Singaram Kogilambal, the chairman of the collective sale committee (CSC), was recently served a writ of summons by Ms Cheryn Chan, 59, the management committee chairman, for alleged defamation.

Ms Chan claims that comments made about her have led to people questioning her conduct. When asked, Ms Kogilambal would only say that this was "a personal matter for Pine Grove".

The 12 residents interviewed by The Straits Times said the current collective sale process - the estate's third attempt - is the most contentious to date.

They said a WhatsApp chat group started by residents to discuss the sale has since splintered into three because of disagreements. Meetings on plans for the sale have also become more heated.

Police confirmed a Pine Grove resident has filed a report over alleged threatening messages.

A resident in his 60s, who asked not to be named over fears of being harassed, said: "The process has become quite ugly, with some groups ostracising those who raise questions, and others raising their voices.

"I wish to stay out of this but I cannot as this involves the sale of my home."

Another complaint is about an alleged conflict of interest involving CSC member and lawyer Gary Teo, 68, whose company had bid to conduct legal services for the sales process.

Some felt that Mr Teo, a lifelong resident of Pine Grove, had not made this clear. But Mr Teo said he had declared before he was elected as a CSC member that he was a lawyer and that may be a conflict of interest should his company be engaged in any legal services.

In any case, he added, the bid went to another company.

"There is nothing tense about the situation, only a difference of opinion. The CSC has tried its best for all the owners in Pine Grove," he said.

CASH IN

Pine Grove is among many estates hoping to cash in on the collective sale frenzy, which has seen 18 residential estates sold en bloc in the last seven months.

The tension at Pine Grove highlights the often fraught nature of collective sales.

There was a spate of vandalism incidents during the collective sale of Laguna Park in 2008.

The 660-unit Pine Grove near Ulu Pandan Road, a 99-year lease former Housing and Urban Development Company estate, is in the midst of collecting signatures for the 80 per cent mandate.

The Straits Times understands that more than 60 per cent of the owners have agreed to date.

Property