Healthcare next to Singapore? Hard to go wrong.

I was hospitalised in the Singapore General hospital once. I had the appendicitis operations there simply because I was in such a pain that it was unimaginable to come back to Malaysia. I might not have survived too. I took the air-conditioned room instead of the one with just fans and the bill came to a total of RM22,000. I think it must be due to the currency but truth is, I was ONLY operated in the Singapore General Hospital. I dared not think what would be the total charges be like if I am in one of the private hospitals there. That’s why I seriously think a few more private hospitals just right across the causeway is hard to go wrong.
I read a news about the real estate and architecture firm Rowsley which had announced that it will be converting its Iskandar Malaysia township project Vantage Bay into a healthcare city. The main reason is because of the current slowdown and yet lots of multiple developments are finding it hard to differentiate itself from one another. Many analysts have also said that there is a housing oversupply in Iskandar. While I disagree with this blanket assumption but that’s another story. The new project would be a development of RM5 billion called Vantage Bay Healthcare City and will comprise six major components, including a specialist and a community hospital, a medical institute, a wellness resort, service apartments for medical tourists and a wellness-themed mall.
Rowsley chief executive Lock Wai Han gave some stats showing the number of Malaysians aged 60 and above will double in 15 years while the same group would already be 20 percent of Singapore’s population within the same period. I think majority of these Malaysians would be spread throughout Malaysia and thus they may not be going Iskandar alone. However, that 20 percent of Singaporeans would be a huge market. Seriously, healthcare is getting ever more expensive and even if you earn SGD, it may be wiser to get treated paying RM. Today, for a low-risk surgery, it is already cheaper to fly into Malaysia from Britain, get operated on plus a short holiday versus getting it done in Britain.
Overall, the project will take over 10 years to complete and the first one would be Thomson Iskandar. It is a specialist hospital to be built on a site adjacent to the Vantage Bay land. This hospital is owned by TMC Life Sciences and will be managed by Singapore’s Thomson Medical when it is completed in 2018. One reason why this will definitely come true? Well, all three entities, TMC, Thomson and Rowsley are controlled by Singaporean tycoon Peter Lim.
I think the issue of oversupply is secondary to the issue of totally negative sentiment in the whole market today. This is because the slowdown is happening not just in Iskandar but also in Klang Valley where majority of any new graduate would be flocking to for a job. Yet, the property transactions are slowing which does not make sense except for the negative sentiment. Everyone has failed to see that Iskandar is right next to Singapore and there is no way that Singaporean companies can effectively compete against the world by operating only within Singapore. Sorry but this is true.
I would definitely not be going to Iskandar for medical treatment as I have many choices nearby here in the Klang Valley but I think this decision by Rowsley is a step in the right direction. Build the ‘attractions’ first before building the residential ones. This may be something which Iskandar should start focusing upon. For now, the negative sentiment is still there even if Ringgit has been on an uptrend for one week. Volatility is the flavour of the day but not doing anything at all is definitely not the best decision. The right time to invest is anytime. Cheers.
written on 10 Oct 2015
Next suggested article: Warning on Iskandar from Monetary Authority of Singapore


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