MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
2020 is unusual. Two major events stayed constantly on the calendars of managing agents: COVID-19 and Accreditation.
The COVID-19 pandemic took all of us by surprise. In many countries, governments were thrown off balance. COVID-19 provides no precedence and no template for use. In countries where the government took leadership and aligned with its people, the situation was better controlled.
“Safe distancing”, “working from home” and “home-based learning” are by now familiar terms to most people. Strata management being an essential service, came into the forefront during this pandemic. Managing agents were among the group of unsung heroes that continued to provide essential services during the Circuit Breaker periods. Our practitioners worked tirelessly throughout the Circuit Breaker periods to keep the strata community safe and functioning.
As early as February 2020, managing agents were expected to impose travel declarations against visitors at every strata development. In the past 10 months, we saw new COVID-19 related changes to the law repeatedly being introduced into the built environment. The changes came so fast that before one could have sufficient time to digest a new set of changes, another set of changes would be introduced. Among the changes, COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Alternative Arrangement for Meetings for MCSTs, Sub-MCSTs and Collective Sales Committees) Order 2020, has had the most significant impact on managing agents. This legislation allows for virtual general meetings and electronic voting that required managing agents to acquire new skills and adopt changes to processes in the conducting of general meetings. We clearly witnessed the efficiency of technology especially in the counting of votes when the results could be published within minutes or even seconds after closing of votes. Gone is the need for paper voting slips that are costly and laborious in administering. Our Association wish that virtual general meetings be permanently enacted as a provision in the Building Maintenance & Strata Management Act. We opine that the Act should also be further enhanced to allow for electronic voting for in-persons general meetings. If allowed, this will remove the need for voting slips and certainly save on cost and time.
On 30th October 2020, department store stalwart Robinsons announced that they have thrown in the towel. Their last two department stores at The Heeren and Raffles City Shopping Centre will be closed and they will exit the local retail scene. Most people perceived that the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) would not last. Few would ever think that Robinsons, a company with 162 years of history would go under. This may be a sign that business is no longer as usual. This prompted Minister Josephine Teo to suggest: “Robinsons’ exit, a strong signal to firms to transform”. There are many calls for managing agents to make changes to the way we manage the strata developments. Before we discuss about which areas that managing agents should make changes, we should first address the mindset which managing agents should adopt. The Building & Construction Authority (BCA) have appointed our Association as one of the two approved accreditation bodies, to conduct accreditation courses. There are still doubt from many as to whether this accreditation would become a compulsory requirement for practitioners. There is no exact answer. But there is a clear answer, that is, managing agents must upskill.
As the February 2021 timeline draws nearer for firms intending to be accredited, to have a minimum of 30% staff accredited, our Association have opened more classes for training individuals to help member firms achieve this status. More are needed to help our managing agents upskill for better strata management. The Association of Strata Managers aim to fulfil this mission. As Martin Luther King Jr said: “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” With the right mindset and continued upskilling, our managing agents who excel in strata management in Singapore could be a model for the world to emulate.
TEO POH SIANG
Association of Strata Managers
Updated on 14 Dec 2020