Friday, April 23, 2010

Double Helix Bridge | Singapore

Double Helix Bridge | Singapore

Singapore's newest iconic symbol - the DNA inspired 280 meter - the world's first Double Helix Bridge (named The Helix) is set to open to pedestrian traffic on 24 April 2010 (together with the Youth Olympic Park).

The pedestrian connection incorporates a unique ‘double-helix’ structure, a world’s first in architectural and engineering bridge design. It comprises two opposite spiraling steel members that are held together by a series of connecting struts to form a tubular structure. This provides an inherent strength, ideal for the curved form. Its resemblance to the structure of DNA, the basic building block of life, symbolizes “life and continuity”, “renewal”, “everlasting abundance” and “growth”, reflecting our aspirations for Marina Bay.

The Youth Olympics Park is the site for some of the inaugural Youth Olympics Games in 14-26 August 2010.

The curved Double Helix Bridge spans the Marina Bay and parallels the Benjamin Sheares Bridge (ECP).

Made of special duplex stainless steel, it is is already being touted as an architectural marvel and engineering feat. The helix structure is phenomenal because if all the steel tubes forming the major and minor helix were laid end to end, it measures 2,250 meters long, and the entire structure weighs about 1,700 tons, which is equivalent to about 1,130 saloon cars.

The major and minor helix, which spiral in opposite directions, have an overall diameter of 10.8 meters and 9.4 meters  respectively, or about three-storeys high.

The total cost of Singapore's curved Double Helix Bridge, Youth Olympic Park and the performances Bands (jugglers, stilt-walkers and fire-twirlers)  / 2-minute pyrotechnic display is  S$82.9 million.

It is a 5 minutes walk from one end of the Helix bridge to the other. The full bridge will lead to the Marina Bay Sands IR when its Phase II opens in June 2010.  MBS First Phase opens in early May.

Even in the evenings, the bridge lights are beautiful and the mood lights can be adjusted to suit major events by the Bay like the annual Singapore NDP (National Day Parade).

The pedestrian footpath bridge is built to take 16,000 people.  It arches 8.8m above Marina Bay, giving enough clearance under it for pleasure craft to enter the Bay.

A new 6-lane vehicular bridge, running parallel, is next to the Double Helix Bridge will open on April 25.

The Marina Bay already has many attractions like the original Merlion statue, the Esplanade Theaters by the Bay, the Floating stage Platform (venue of the NDP of recent years), the world's tallest moving observation wheel - Singapore Flyer , the Formula 1 (F1) City Night Racing Track and the Marina Barrage.

The Double Helix Bridge adds to these yet to be opened upcoming Singapore icons:

Marina Sands Bay Integrated Resort
New Marina Bay Botanic Garden
Singapore's New Downtown  - the Marina Bay Financial District
Circle Line MRT Station at Marina
Fullerton Bay Hotel and Customs House, a nightspot complex

which will compete with established tourism orientated areas in Singapore like Orchard Road and Sentosa.

© - Double Helix Bridge | Singapore

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Worldex Timeshare Reseller - CASE Warning

CASE Warning Over Worldex Practices After 137 Complaints

A total of 137 customers have filed complaints with CASE about Worldex since it was set up in November 2008.

Some of the questionable ones include offering to buy over timeshares contracts from clients on condition they wait for 30 to 60 years before receiving their payout from Worldex, plus profit (???????). Some timeshare customers were allegedly also made to pay extra "consultation fees" of several hundred dollars when they attended presentations at Worldex office.

CASE said that multiple parties are named in Worldex's membership agreements, which would lead to confusion among timeshare clients as to whom they could make a claim against should there be a default.

Other customers have also complained of being misled by the company's claims and alleged failure on its part to honour promises of cheap holidays.

They had typically invested around $10,000 each, believing the company would let them book steeply discounted holidays with 5-star accommodation through a special website.

But they later realised that the deals were not as cheap as promised, and that they could find lower-priced alternatives. Customers were told they would be given a password to an "exclusive booking website" operated by Worldex.

When they logged into the booking site, the rates were horrible. They were at least $100 more per night compared with the rates on the hotels' website.

Customers complained that by the time Worldex sent them the password to the site, it had been two months and the cooling-off period had lapsed.

According to company documents, obtained by The Straits Times, telemarketers are instructed to tell potential customers that the company does "foreign real estate sales and leasing".

But it is registered with the Accounting and Corporated Regulatory (ACRA) as a business and management consultancy. Its website states it does business travel management.

Worldex is also listed on ACRA as a live business, with its registered office located on the 6th floor of Tong Building in Orchard Road.

When The Straits Times visited the office yesterday, it found a company called River Marketing occupying that address. A check on ACRA found no such business exists with that name.

When contacted yesterday, Mr Peter Mitch Mabbort, who is listed as Worldex's executive shareholder in company documents, declined to comment.

Mr Seah Seng Choon, executive director of CASE, said that if it received more complaints, it would consider taking legal action under the Consumer Protection Fair Trading Act.

He advised timeshare owners to carry out appropriate checks on companies if they are offering free or discounted holidays: "Check the companies' websites, and with other people who have signed up, to see if customers have successfully booked holidays before".

Mr Seah warned timeshare investors to be cautious of companies that offer to buy over their timeshare memberships. Timeshare companies have consistently been one of the top sources of consumer gripes lodged with CASE. Last year, they attracted 2,523 complaints (some people never learn).

The Straits Times reported last year that more timeshare companies have begun luring customers with offers to buy over their existing timeshare agreements, on the condition they pay a substantial fee.

Such cases have gone up 10-fold since they started surfacing in 2003, and now comprise more than a quarter of timeshare complaints.


Some timeshare resellers like Asialinx try to lock clients in with powerful agreements like Power of Attorney (POA) which no one in their right minds should ever ever sign without hiring their own lawyer to vet every single document related to the timeshare sales agreement. If the company does not hand you all the documents related to the timeshare sale agreement for your lawyer's scrutiny, be on guard, something fishy may be afoot. Don't try to save money and rely on Asialinx 's lawyer to protect your interest. You must hire a lawyer who has your interest at heart 100%.

If you would not give Power of Attorney to someone you love and trust, to handle your financial affairs, why in heavens name would you sign a POA over to someone you don't even know, let alone trust 100%. As this is an unregulated industry in Singapore which has numerous (CASE) complaints against it, you have to be extremely careful of not getting yourself out of the frying pan and into the fire.

At the meeting, they will tell you that yours is one of the few timeshares they are prepared to buy "off the market". This is bullshit. How can they make money on low volume sales? If their business plan allows them to make a lot of money on low sales volume, then, their profit margins on each sale must be incredibly high. Either way, this is not good news for you, the seller.

At a meeting with Peter Mitch Mabbort several years back, "Mitch" had implied that I was stupid not to accept his offer. Looking at what has happened to Worldex "investors", I am so glad I was "stupid".

I was always able to keep a level head (while others were losing theirs) because my #1 Rule at such meetings are: "The only reason these people are seeing you is to make money. If they are doing acts of kindness, they'll be out of business very quickly". If you want to make a bet, go to the casino. At least, you'll have more fun.

#2 Rule: "Never sign anything on the spot. Go back and think about it. Talk to other knowledgeable people". These timeshare people will be happy to see you again, believe me (no matter what they say to the contrary). There are no queues to get in. Even if they cannot entertain you, there are many other such companies around who will gladly take your business. All you have to do is sit back and wait. The "opportunity" arrives every few months. Not that I'm saying you should take it!

Related Articles:

Why Can't I Sell My Timeshares?

CASE Warning Over Worldex After 137 Complaints