By David See Leong Kit

Note for Readers: My letter below was rejected for publication by TODAY. Likely reason — the paragraph as highlighted in italics.

Your VOICES page (TODAY April 13) featured two letters with opposing perspectives about sky-high HDB flat prices — the euphoric “Let’s talk about property” by Lulu See and the more sensible “How much would I have made?” by Tong Jee Cheng.

Let me now offer this balanced overall summary.

Some homes may seem affordable because of low interest rates now, but this will not remain so during the entire loan period. A sensible home loan period should at most not exceed 20 years.

For a couple with a combined $8,000 monthly income, stretching a HDB loan of $500,000 over 30 years at the concessionary interest of 2.6 per cent will of course make the monthly repayment instalment of $2,000 “instantly affordable”. But at the end of this lengthy period, they would have coughed up some $800,000 in total capital and interest repayments.

In her letter, Lulu See said “My partner and I earn more than $8,000, but we were allowed to buy a unit at The Pinnacle after they reviewed our request”. HDB must now provide a detailed public explanation as to why its income limit requirement has not been strictly and fairly enforced for all new-flat applicants.

What is urgently needed in land-scarce Singapore are effective long-term Government policies to promote an “orderly” property market that is sustainable by economic growth, real demand and especially rising incomes. Such a market with gradual capital appreciation will benefit many Singaporeans from each successive generation.

Whereas a “speculative” property market of sky-high prices is largely driven by speculators out ot make a quick buck by “flipping” a property. But when the property bubble finally bursts, both speculators and genuine home owners will be hurt by rapidly falling property values.

During our 1994 property bull run, prices of both private and HDB properties increased by 30 per cent per annum for three years in a row. But since when has our economy and our salaries grew at such a phenomenal rate?

We will do well to learn the lessons from how the US sub-prime housing bubble turned into the 2008 Global Financial Crisis that has brought recession job losses for many Singaporeans.

A property may generally be an appreciating asset, but it can also end up as a millstone around one’s neck. High property prices can affect the average Singaporean as follows:

  • As a home buyer: Is it wise to spend so much of your hard-earned income in a property, with little left for your children’s upbringing and your own retirement and healthcare needs?
  • As an employee: If your employer has to pay high office rent out of its operating budget, can it afford to pay you a better salary, increments and bonuses?
  • As a consumer: If a supermarket operator has to pay high commercial rent, will it not charge you higher prices for goods and services?

Straits Times censors Chee's reply about foreign workers and HDB prices Democrats blanket Bukit Panjang with flyers

  1. At the end of the day, it is because we do not have enough independent voices in the parliament to voice out the concerns for the ones paying for the mistakes of PAP’s policies. , Singaporeans will forever be under-represented in our own parliament.

  2. Another unwitting example that rules are being bended or broken to accommodate some people. In the recent years there have been many instances where such incidents have been unknowing leaked out or have taken place with blatant brazenness. From the judgement that being inside the polling station is not equivalent to being near the polling station, to the other ridiculous judgements, the appointment to and creation of new post and position, the brazen brushing off calls for financial loses by the sovereign funds, the refusal to impose the declaration of assets, no reasonal explanation on TC loses and the generous bonus payment to TC workers (elites). I am convinced the core has become rotten.

  3. It is a well-known fact that HDB only considers gross salary into the calculation of the $8,000 household income limit. If Steve Jobs were a Singaporean, he would qualify for a BTO because of his gross salary of $1. Because of this absurd way of deriving the income limit, the application of the $8,000 household income limit is neither fair nor equitable. Different industries have different remuneration policies. Some institute low gross salary but very high bonuses, while others offer high gross salaries with almost no bonuses. Yet HDB does not take those factors into account. That could explain why they consider some appeal cases favourably.

  4. http://app.reach.gov.sg/reach/YourSay/YourDiscussionCorner/tabid/117/ptid/414/page/76/totrecs/768/threadid/2427/forumtype/posts/Default.aspx

    HDB caught red-handed bending its own rules
    …….
    In her letter, Lulu See said “My partner and I earn more than $8,000, but we were allowed to buy a unit at The Pinnacle after they reviewed our request”. HDB must now provide a detailed public explanation as to why its income limit requirement has not been strictly and fairly enforced for all new-flat applicants.
    …….

    I guess there will no reply for this problem, or only has a reply similar to the one I have received at 11 Feb 2010(attached at below), because the enquiry I sent to them were same kind of problem.

    I am waiting for the reply again because I have sent the following e-mail to ask the same problem again at 07 April 2010:

    “Should I show you the record of my income when the tenancy was renewing? Your board never ask me to show, and your staff and the tenant were assuming the amount of my income, are you all always do the job in this way? Especially Mr KOH HUNG KHOON, he seems very sure about my income so he said that the subsequent renewal were in order. Was he actually know the amount of my income when he was replying my e-mail? Your board never ask me to report the income so I did not report it, why Mr Koh are so sure about my income? ”

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    Reply from HDB dated 11 Feb 2010 :

    ……. We refer to your email of 26 Jan 2010 to our Quality Service Manager.

    2 We have established that the application of the rental flat concerned as well as the subsequent renewal were in order.

    Yours sincerely

    KOH HUNG KHOON
    HEAD, RENTAL HOUSING MANAGEMENT UNIT
    for DEPUTY DIRECTOR (RENTAL HOUSING)
    HOUSING & DEVELOPMENT BOARD

    ========================================================

    The above msg was posted at 16/04/2010, I have sent 2 e-mail to HDB at 07/04/2010, HDB has replied 2 messages to me at 17/04/2010 11:30:58 and 17/04/2010 11:29:29 respectively, both replies used same title and have same contents, I can only guess that one of it is for the above enquiry.

    I have enquiry for the income ceiling problem for many times, and everytime the reply was same as the following reply.

    Therefore, I guess Lulu See will also fail, HDB would not provide a detailed public explanation as to why its income limit requirement has not been strictly and fairly enforced for all new-flat applicants. They would also ask her goto HDB office for a discussion.

    —————————————————————————–

    Reply from HDB dated 17/04/2010 :

    We refer to your email of 07/04/2010.

    To address your concerns, please call at our Branch Office for a discussion.

    Thank you.

    Yours sincerely,

    HO WEI KHEONG JEFFREY
    SENIOR EXECUTIVE ESTATES OFFICER
    FOR HEAD, SIMS DRIVE BRANCG OFFICE
    HOUSING ADMINISTRATION DEPARTMENT

  5. Have you received the detailed public explanation from HDB?
    Or HDB totally don’t want to explain why its income limit requirement has not been strictly and fairly enforced for all new-flat applicants?

  6. http://app.reach.gov.sg/reach/YourSay/YourDiscussionCorner/tabid/117/ptid/414/page/81/totrecs/810/threadid/2427/forumtype/posts/Default.aspx

    Where is it? (I am a Guest) Posted : 05/05/2010 8:49 PM
    Where is the HDB detailed public explanation?
    Will HDB explain why its income limit requirement has not been strictly and fairly enforced for all new-flat applicants.

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    The Online Citizen Lies (I am a Guest) Posted : 05/05/2010 9:27 PM
    why are you posting lies from The Online Citizen? Its been highlighted by Dr Balakrishnan that it is publishing lies to paint a bad picture of the government.

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    Blue Eyes (I am a Guest) Posted : 05/05/2010 9:46 PM
    Refute it ,if those are lies !

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    Who’s lying? (I am a Guest) Posted : 06/05/2010 1:07 AM
    Real gold not afraid of fire. True or lies will be known eventually.

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    Everyone seems to be lying on his laurels….. Posted : 06/05/2010 10:00 AM
    Real gold not afraid of fire. True or lies will be known eventually.

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    PAPer (I am a Guest) Posted : 06/05/2010 11:17 AM
    HDB keep up the great job you’ve done.

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    GuardianAngel Posted : 06/05/2010 6:00 PM
    Please explain!!! Why Mr Mah admitted in Parliament that HDB had off look in certain areas which causes people can sold their flats few times just to get the money for other purposes??? If there are nothing wrong about it, why should admit???

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