Sep 9, 2008 Tuesday

CEHA and CES: What's the difference?

I REFER to the Singapore Accredited Estate Agencies' (SAEA) letter "Two-tier test system raises standards of estate agency industry" (Aug 22) and Mr Jeff Foo's subsequent rebuttal on the issue of a "two-tier system" for real estate agents, "Self-regulation in estate agency industry" (Sept 2) . I think the SAEA and Institute of Estate Agents (IEA) should emulate the way the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) resolved the "missing coach" saga recently through open and frank dialogues.

Being the more educated of the two feuding organisations, the SAEA should be gracious enough to elucidate the full picture of the Common Examination for Salespersons (CES), not just to the IEA but to the consumers it claims to protect. Instead of seeing this letter as a demand for explanation, the SAEA should see it magnanimously as a plea by the less educated to be educated on the issue.

For a start, the SAEA should graciously educate the less educated agents and the public they serve on the following:

1. The wisdom on why a 50 per cent-pass multiple choice question examination is sufficient for salespersons and the public they serve.

2. The SAEA should compassionately explain the formulation process of CES to the IEA and the public, bearing in mind that some of us might not understand the complexity involved in a system which aims to protect 1.2 million home owners.

3. The CES must have been of an international standard involving subject matter experts from all relevant fields including public housing, competent authorities. the financial sector, building control, and the sales industry players. The SAEA should graciously show the names of the experts on the CES examination board and the date of their appointment.

4. The SAEA should also categorically point out the critical difference in functions and job scope between an accredited agent (with CEHA) and a salesperson (with CES). Should they be paid differently since there must be some difference in service quality and job scope between them?

The Government has cleared the path for meritocracy to flourish in all levels of society. It is time for private organisations, such as the SAEA, whose policies have a direct impact on others' livelihood and life savings, to show its grace, sincerity and care towards the people they claim to represent.

Heng Uei Duan (Ms)