Written by Ng E-Jay
16 December 2009
Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said at the [email protected] handover ceremony last Sunday that HDB flat prices can be expected to keep on rising as long as the economy continues to grow.
He also said that the “HDB will continue to build affordable homes of good quality, so that each generation of Singaporeans will continue to have a stake in the nation“, which is somewhat of an irony given that the [email protected] flats are the priciest in the whole of Singapore, fetching up to $650,000 (source).
In his address, MM Lee said that the movement towards a market-based pricing system for HDB flats has allowed HDB prices to move in tandem with the economy, thus unlocking the value of HDB flats and allowing citizens to share in the fruits of the nation’s growth.
In reality, such a market-based pricing system is flawed as it subjects HDB flat prices to volatile swings in the private property market. It also makes a mockery of the Government’s position that HDB flats are subsidized for citizens because by allowing HDB flats to rise in tandem with private property prices without any upper limit, the HDB still makes a tidy profit even after the subsidy and first time home buyers have to bear the brunt of a market escalating out of control.
The Government has sought to make home ownership the cornerstone of nation building. In the past few years however, the huge influx of immigrants as well as unregulated foreign fund inflows have contributed to the escalation of property prices, gradually pricing born and bred Singaporeans out of the market.
In 1963, the then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew threatened voters that if he was not elected, the two Duxton Plain rental block of flats then under construction would not be completed and voters would have a “bleak future”. (Straits Times, “Flat prices will rise but still be affordable“, 14 Dec 09)
Today, voters are being threatened with lift and flat upgrading programmes that can be withheld at will if Opposition candidates are voted in, despite the fact that they are taxpayers like all other Singaporeans.
Today, the [email protected] stands in place of the basic 10-storey rental housing blocks built in March 1963, not as a shining example of the success of home ownership, but as a testament to how the PAP Government has gradually lost its sense of responsibility towards citizens over the years.