theonlinecitizen

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Homeless soon, thanks to HDB

Posted by theonlinecitizen on February 25, 2008

By Selene Cheng

6.5 million people. That is the projected number of people our government believes Singapore can accommodate. Already, 80% of the population lives in subsidised housing, and with the development of estates in Sengkang and Punggol, no one will have to be a vagrant. No one will have to sleep under the void deck with aluminium cans for a pillow, or at the beach with the sky as their blanket.

Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. Being homeless in Singapore is a real possibility, as theonlinecitizen (TOC) has found out, and you don’t even need to be old and dirt poor in order to have no roof over your head.

In this special feature on home ownership in Singapore, theonlinecitizen tells the story of Andrew, a 34-year old young man who will soon be out of a home in 3 months because of the Housing and Development Board’s (HDB) lack of compassion and flexibility.

In the beginning

Andrew has a family of four: his father, his mother, (both in their sixties), himself and his sister. His father is a real estate agent. In 1992, the family bought an executive maisonette, taking out a mortgage loan of $464,100.

The family woes started in 1991, when Andrew’s father, the sole breadwinner then, started chalking up less sales. Despite the financial difficulties, his father managed to pay the instalments.

It was not to last for long. In 1996, the property slump severely affected his father’s income. Andrew’s father went into debt, and could not afford the monthly mortgage loan repayments, the utilities and the service and conservancy charges (S & CC).

14 instalment plans and family conflict

Because the family could not afford to pay for the utilities, they worked out instalment plans with Singapore Power (SP). TOC understands that the family has drawn up 14 instalment plans to date since 1999, and the family have kept to the plans with varying degrees of success.

“My father was always a dollar short and a day late,” said Andrew. “He tried driving a taxi, being an agent at a maid agency, but the money was never enough (to cover the bills). So he was always struggling to find a job (that paid enough).”

“For a good 10 years (1996 – 2006), he was out of a (stable) job.”

Because of the family’s inability to make repayments, the family’s electricity and water supply was often cut off. Andrew estimates it has been about 20 times now. The stress of being unable to repay the mortgage loan and the frequent utilities disconnections took a toll on the family. “Our quarrels just seemed to escalate,” said Andrew. “We always argued about why (we have) no money to pay, whose responsibility it is to pay, why my father can’t get a job, etc…”

“There was so much finger pointing”, he said wistfully..

Utilities cut so many times, he knows the routine

Andrew’s electricity and water has been cut off so many times he knows the drill already. According to Andrew, a Singapore Power (SP) representative comes, rings the doorbell, the family opens the door and pleads with the representative not to cut off their utilities. The discussion ends with his father signing a document undertaking to pay the arrears plus late payment penalties etc.

One family member then goes down to the SP office with the signed document to “settle” the matter, and a technician would be sent to reconnect the utilities the same day. Andrew said that the SP office usually asked them to pay in full, but because the family could not, they would “pay something, like anything” and their utilities would be reconnected.

“There were times my entire family survived on my mother’s $600-$800 salary as a part-time worker in Yoshinoya to pay the bills,” said Andrew.

Lack of compassion from SingPower

The most recent incident in January 2008, however, showed SP’s lack of compassion.

The family owed SP $2000+ in utilities, and they had kept to their latest repayment plan of $250 monthly. However, once they missed just 1 month’s payment last year, an SP representative was sent to disconnect the supply in January.

Andrew recounts that that day, the technician had rang the doorbell, but because his father was in the toilet, no one came to the door. The SP rep thus proceeded to disconnect the supply.

Halfway while Andrew’s father was doing his business, the light in the toilet went off. Realising that the electricity had been cut off, Andrew’s father rushed out of the toilet in a panic and pleaded with him, saying that he’d sign whatever was needed, as long as the electricity was reconnected. But Andrew said that this time there was no discussion and no immediate reconnection.

“The man didn’t even want my father to sign anything, he just repeated again and again, ‘I’m sorry sir, I’m just doing my job’, and asked us to go down to the SP office to settle with them,” said Andrew.

What kind of system has created an employee that fears the system so much that he doesn’t even dare to go beyond what he was told he was supposed to do?”, said Andrew. Upset, he called the SP Customer Service Centre.

“Where’s all the compassion in all this? I’ve been through all this before, I know the procedure,” said Andrew. He explained to the customer service officer that the previous reps had always discussed the issue with them, and had always reconnected their supply. In response, said Andrew, the SP Customer Service Officer “proceeded to give (him) an education on what is supposed to happen” and repeated the procedure that Andrew already knew, reiterating that if nobody answered the door, they have a right to disconnect the power immediately.

“I told them, ‘I know the procedure. But why the previous people who came to disconnect can be compassionate, just sign the paper and they’ll reconnect immediately? Why not this time?”, he asks.

It was evident that the talk with SP was fruitless, for Andrew said that his father was soon served a letter demanding payment by 5 Feb with no exceptions.

Andrew added that the amount was originally in arrears for $2000+, but as of Jan it had been paid down to $700+.

“That shows our effort since we made our first arrangement with SP that we pay, every month,” said Andrew. He said that they always paid the current charges plus a bit more to offset the original debt. The $700+ would have just taken a few more months to pay off.

“But the hammer just comes down on us, and I don’t understand why. I don’t understand that.”

No mercy from HDB either

Andrew’s woes are not confined to SP charges alone. Andrew will soon be homeless as well, because the family cannot afford the S & CC and the mortgage loan repayments, the latter of which have to be paid in cash (no CPF because his father is self-employed).

Andrew explains that since April 1999, they have received financial assistance in the form of deferred payments for their S & CC, or smaller payments of the interest only. Andrew makes it clear that they have only received these concessions due to their constant pleading.

“I estimate my father has gone down to HDB to plead about 10 times already,” said Andrew. “We’ve also pleaded with them through our MP, Mr Wong Kan Seng, at least for 5 years already.” Andrew said that each time HDB sends them a letter demanding payment, his father goes down to the HDB office to pay a little to keep the family from being continually hounded.

Andrew’s father had had a repayment plan of $120 per month for the S & CC charges, but had not been able to pay still. The HDB’s “compassion” finally ran out. In November last year, the family was served a lawyer’s letter demanding they pay their 20 months’ worth of S & CC charges of around $2000. The actual arrears amount to $1600+, while the remaining is a penalty for late payment.

HDB also turned down their appeal to make partial payments of their monthly house loan instalments as they had been given extensions. The original instalments were $2000+ per month, but are now $3000+ (including penalties for late payments). A letter issuing an ultimatum was sent to them, telling them to register their flat for sale by 28 Jan, and sell the house within three months.

When asked why they did not sell the house earlier, Andrew replies that the property market was not good, and if they sold the house, they would have made a massive financial loss and still be in debt to HDB. “My dad’s intention all the while is for the house value to appreciate, so he can cover all debts, be free of this burden of being in debt to HDB,” said Andrew.

He also adds that his father recently had been sent a letter, informing him (father) that he had been barred from applying for a HDB season parking ticket because of the S & CC arrears. The move has made the family worse off financially, said Andrew, as his father needs the car (and therefore season parking ticket to park the car) for his work as a real estate agent.

“Finding a house is tough as hell in Singapore

The family has no choice but to sell the house. The sale means that Andrew’s father will lose his entire lifetime of CPF savings. But Andrew sees a glimmer of sunshine in the gloom. The property market is good now, and their house has had a good valuation; the money they get from the sale will cover all SP, S & CC, and mortgage loan money they owe.

Andrew’s parents’ eligibility to apply for a new HDB loan is in doubt because of his father’s debt history. Andrew himself, though, is going to get married, and he and his fiancée have the ability to buy a new house. The plan is to have their parents stay with them.

The problem, however, lies in finding a house within the tight deadline of three months. “Finding a house is tough as hell in Singapore,” said Andrew. He said that if they bought a resale flat, they would have to pay a cash top-up of at least $30,000 – $40,000, and on top of that the 10% downpayment for the HDB loan. Andrew said that he and his fiancée have the means to service the HDB loan, but not enough to cough up a $30,000 cash top-up.

Andrew said he has been looking for flats with a cash top-up of $5000-$10,000. Andrew and his fiancée have viewed about 30 units so far since August 2007, but have not managed to find one within their budget.

Immediately he corrects himself – he did find one within their budget. “We saw one house in Sengkang, ground floor unit, 4-room, asking for $5000 cash (top-up) only,” said Andrew. “And we said, ok, we want, but when we called up 2 hours later, after we had viewed the house, the agent said [it had been] sold already. Because after I left, another 4 people (had come), and one person offered $7000, the other offered $10,000, and the last offered $20,000,” said Andrew. “It was like bidding, you know,” said Andrew.

“So the loser is the one who doesn’t have the cash lah.”

Andrew said that he also tried balloting for a flat, but was unsuccessful. He had applied for a flat in both mature and new estates, even unpopular estates, and each time his queue number has been unfavourable. In the recent Sengkang balloting exercise, he said that the 400+ units attracted 5,000 applicants, and his queue number was 2600. A recent balloting exercise for 200 units in mature estates attracted 10,000 applicants, of which he was number 5938.

Andrew said he read on the HDB website that those who had submitted more applications and failed to get a flat would be moved up further the queue. “But nobody knows how many people are in the queue,” said Andrew. “Nobody knows how many have played this game, and (applied repeatedly) just to get ahead in the queue, and each application is $10 you know,” said Andrew.

“I wonder, how many houses are out there in HDB ready to be sold, and how many are actually being released in every batch?”

“Is this a money churning exercise?”

No priority given by HDB for family to buy flat

Andrew is desperate to find a house, “any house”, he says, for if he cannot get a flat within the next 3 months, he and his family will be homeless. Andrew said that he even went down to the Bishan HDB office to find out what he could do. The staff who served him told him that “even as staff (they didn’t) have priority to know what are the units that are not being released”.

“Is there such a system that says that for those who truly need it on a case-by-case basis we give you priority?”, he asked.

“Because I’m going to be homeless!”

Homeless in Singapore?

It is highly likely that Andrew’s case is not an isolated one. For more than 15 years, Andrew has slept through hot nights and used candles for lighting. He is helpless to improve his situation much. He does not have a degree – he is self-employed – his income varies from month to month, and he explains that he would earn even less than what he earns now if he took a regular job.

Andrew’s plight also brings up more disturbing questions. Why do repeated appeals from an esteemed MP to the HDB and SP have seemingly little effect? Why must the HDB – a quasi-government body, no less – and SP, a major utilities provider, be so hard on one down-and-out old man? What is the breakdown of the number of people who have balloted more than once in order to get a higher priority in the queue for flats? Is balloting a money-making exercise after all, despite HDB’s claim that balloting is to give everyone “a fair chance”?

In summary, these are the problems that Andrew and his family face:

1. They must put their flat on the resale market by Jan 28, 2008.

2. Repay $464,100 of mortgage loans

3. Pay the $700 in utilities

4. Pay their Town Council $3000 in S&C charges

And even if they manage to pay off the debts, Andrew and his family may still end up on the street – because he can’t afford a resale flat and the queue for a new flat will take some time.

Yet, despite all that he is going through, he only asks that the HDB considers his circumstances and maybe move him up in the queue for a new flat.

Andrew says that this is an opportunity for his family to finally get out of the cycle of being in debt for so long – if only the HDB would be compassionate about his situation.

There are questions that only the relevant authorities can answer. The clock is ticking, and for those like Andrew who are stuck between a rock and a hard place, their next home may be the void deck. Let us hope that it will not be for lack of compassion from our government that people will sleep outside at night.

Otherwise, thanks to the HDB, a family will be homeless.

 

NOTE:

Andrew’s friend, Leong Sze Hian, who alerted TOC to the story, says:

How many Singaporeans are there like my friend, Andrew and his family, who may lose their home, and their life CPF savings, because they cannot pay for their HDB flat?

With the apparent “disappearance” of the flats given financial assistance statistics in this year’s HDB Annual Report (this statistic was in past Annual Reports – the previous year’s figure was 28,386), how many can’t pay?

When the HDB makes a demand for a flat owner to sell his or her flat in the open market by a certain deadline, will it disappear from the “financial assistance” statistics?

Will it also disappear from the “flats repossessed by HDB” statistics? (360 flat-owners voluntarily surrendered their flats from 2003 to 2006 – reply to question in Parliament, March 2007).

 

Read Sze Hian’s earlier article on the disappearing statistics for the number of flat-owners whose applications for financial assistance were approved: Uniquely Singapore, F1 or F9?: Inflation up, HDB property tax up, statistics disappear, Ministers’ pay up again soon.

Read also: “HDB’s mistake but she’s made to pay – 4 years later”.

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83 Responses to “Homeless soon, thanks to HDB”

  1. nhyone said

    Andrew does not have my sympathy based on the article.

    What Andrew calls “compassion”, I say he’s taking advantage of SingPower.

    It’s not like he will be truly homeless. It looks like he can afford to rent — short term — but the article didn’t mention that possibility.

  2. Eveline said

    Moral of the story: don’t over-extend your mortgage. $464K is a huge loan to take for an HDB flat.

  3. Singapoorean said

    I think there are many people in this sort of situation. No wonder the statistics disappear. HDB can solve this problem easy lar. If it was someone with connection, sure HDB will solve it instantly.

    LKY say S’pore “Golden Era”. I wonder for who.

  4. Merv said

    You’ll have your electricity cut off in any country if you don’t pay our bills.

    Not just Singapore. Are you saying you want FOC electricity ?

  5. Mun Kit said

    Not sure if this is related to the letter published recently in the ST Forum. Initially I tot all 4 children were quite young and the ‘father’ is the sole breadwinner. Now it seems Andrew should have been able to contribute when he was older (since he wasn’t studying), at least for the last decade (when he turned 24?). Why is the family still in so much distress?
    What about the other 3 children? How old are they?

  6. Nicholas said

    They can actually rent out a couple of rooms to cover some expenses isnt it? Only 4 person staying in executive maisonette, which has 4 bedrooms, 3 toilets. In fact, the dinning area can be converted to a room if they want to. But why they didnt think of renting out?

  7. Gary Teoh said

    They can down grade but then again it will be a loss,I would suggest to sell the flat and temporary rent a place,wait for the market to cool and when prices are low, buy a 4 room flat.It can be done.

  8. panter92 said

    It’s his fault. He shouldn’t have bought a maisonette unless he was sure he could afford it.

  9. Bruce said

    This is really ridiculous
    1. No country in the world would give free electricity or water.
    2. I know lots of real estate agents who is not driving but successful in the biz. When his father can afford to drive a car which is not a necessity in Singapore why cant he repay the utilities
    3. Could have downgraded to a 3rm flat and sell the big house. No need to have such a big house for 4 persons.
    End of the day it’s their own deeds. Not taking care of proper risk planning or trying to reduce the expenses yet still complain.

    Not supportive at all.

  10. Soh said

    In Singapore, it seems great to use CPF money(retirement money) to buy public appartment. I find that not normal as our retirement money shrink with increase of property price. The government should regulate the price of public housing and the amount of CPF money we can use.

  11. Leong Sze Hian said

    Renting needs at least $1,000 or more – which may leave little disaposable income to try to make ends meet

    After CPF contribution, the net disposable income (if have to use cash to pay for rental) may not be very much

  12. Leong Sze Hian said

    In what countries in the world do we have this? – According to the Yearbook of Statistics Singapore, the water, electricity and gas tariffs’ price indices have increased from 43.9 to 100, 83.8 to 110.1 and 69.2 to 104.4, respectively, for the period from 1995 to 2005.

    The above is an increase of 128, 31 and 51 per cent respectively for water, electricity and gas, for the 10-year period. In annual percentage increase terms, the increase was 8.6, 2.8 and 4.2 per cent per annum.

    Against the inflation rate for this period, which I understand was about one per cent, the increase relative to inflation was about 9, 3 and 4 times more than inflation.

    Why is it that basic utilities which are essential items of consumption for Singaporeans have been allowed to increase so much over the years? To what extent has this contributed to the high profits of the utilities operators?

  13. Leong Sze Hian said

    They have been renting out a room, but it may be hard to keep a tenant, when utilities get cut every once in a while

  14. Leong Sze Hian said

    Selling the flat to downgrade means no home, loss of life CPF savings, and still owe HDB money, as HDB prices fell by as much as 35% during the property bear market from 1996 to 2005

    Must wait 30 months to buy a smaller flat from HDB

    Re-sale smaller flat needs substantial cash above valuation

  15. Nicholas said

    Hi Leong, it is hard to sympathise with their situation when they bought a maisonette with only have 4 person staying in and one sole breadwinner. I cant think of any other reason why they would do that other than wanting to live in comfort or showing off or taking things for granted. I used to stay in 2 room flat before moving to a 4 room flat and they are only 4 of us. My wife used to stay in 1 room flat before her parent bought a 3 room flat. And 5 of them staying inside.

    Correct me if I am wrong, SP can actually install a box which actually control how much household can use electricity and water per month. This will allow the owner not to overuse and incur more expenses to SP. Not too sure if they are able or allow to do that or not. Maybe you can find out more regarding this.

  16. Leong Sze Hian said

    Singaporeans were kind of encouraged to keep upgrading with ever rising HDB prices until the downturn from 1996 to 2005

    When your income is sufficient to upgrade, many did

    Most of the surplus flats (at it’s peak about 16,000), were the larger 5-room and Executive flats
    – even if you want a smaller flat, you have to wait much longer

    I think the PAYU (Pay As You Use) meter is only offered – I’m not sure if one can request for it
    What it does is everytime you put money into it, 20% is used to pay the arrears you owe for electricity

    Cheers

    They are normally found outside 1 and 2-room flats (I think there are about 12,000+ in Singapore)

  17. KC said

    After reading, like what others said, it’s hard to even sympathise with their situation. What i see is that they have thoroughly exploited the “kindness” of singpower, hdb , town council etc just because they didn’t want to sell the EC unit. And now they are jumping out to “shoot” them back.

    BTW, what are andrew and his sister been doing to help payment? I used to work in pizza hut, KFC during my schooldays just because my parent could not afford my schoolfee.

    It’s our own life, learn to manage it properly ourself.

  18. Leong Sze Hian said

    In the past, I understand that the penalty for late payment of Service, & Conservancy Charges (S & CC), was only a few dollars a month. But now, it’s a fixed dollar amount of as much as 8% of the monthly charge, or 2% per month, whichever is higher

    When you get a legal letter, you have to pay the legal fee too

    And when you get charged in court, you get fined too

    So, if you can’t even pay, how to pay the fine?

    It’s a vicious cycle for those caught in it

    When you owe the Town Council, you are barred from getting season parking – how to be a taxi driver or estate agent, when you cannot park? So, keep getting fined for parking – it’s another vicious cycle

    No matter how poor you are, the fact that you live in bigger housing means that you cannot qualify for any kind of financial assistance

    The assumption being that you can sell your house and downgrade

    But, for people like Andrew’s family, how to downgrade when the sale proceeds was not even enough to pay HDB’s outstanding housing loan – no home, no CPF

    The point I’m making is not the specifics of each case, but why there are no regular statistics on how many Singaporeans cannot pay their mortgage, S & CC, utilities, etc

    Cheers

  19. Daniel said

    When I start reading this article and people start bombarding that Andrew deserves it because he over-commit himself by purchasing a costly property in the first place, I ask myself this very question:
    Why the people keep condemning him just because he could no longer afford to pay to pay for his house ? Isn’t everyone want good life for himself and family and invest in property so to sell off at higher price ?

    Everyone makes mistake in his life just that when the coffers make mistake, they have the media and deceptive practices to cover their backside and made the public pay for it.

    Now let help Andrew resolve his problem rather than just simply condemning him as he is already in a state of helplessness. Gracious is not about telling people of his mistakes but also helping in time of crisis.

    I’m afraid Andrew is not alone in this situation and I have seen far more people over-committed themselves over exorbitant house loan and hopefully to sell off at a profit. But what is it so prevalent in Singapore ? Have people wonder why it so ? Who bring this kind of money culture, KiaSee-ness, KiaSu-ness into the society ? Can the government who dictates and controls the so much of public matter provide an answer to it ? I wonder if not the government is so pretentious and people so distrust of government which love changing law to suit their own agenda, I doubt many people will over-commit themselves in pursuit of better quality of life. It is the result of Fear, Doubt and Uncertainty about the future that people willing to risk their current financial well-being for better life.

    $450,000 a lot to pay for ? You must be joking if compare by today standard. How about government coming out HDB flat in $700,000 and set for increasing cost of HDB to make profit in the name of free market ? We can laugh and pity Andrew, but we can start laugh and pity ourselves too because those price for maisonette in the past is quickly becoming the price we pay for HDB in no time giving the inflation and escalating cost that our government is so ‘pretentious’ to control.

    We will see more people who have the same predicament as Andrew in coming future. No doubt about it.

    I agree with Leong that the cost of penalizing and necessities are all going ridiculously high and yet government are surprisingly reticent and nonchalant about it. No wonder, people start migrating in search of a more compassionate and gracious society minus those expensive ‘fake-elite’ coffers. At least we won’t get to listen to “Mee Siam Mai Hum” and “More Good Years” kind of childish nonsense in other countries.

    • sandya said

      I agree with all that Daniel had said. My friend Sara is going through a very very bad situation with HDB for the last two years till today 10/06/10. SINGAPORE!! careless abt what u feel and going through, they will only look at u even if ur a beggar, when they need your support. No freedom of speech or else u will be behind bars or u will be black listed in any kind of help u ask them..

      HDB is more concern abt money then thinking abt what public feels. If its their mistakes, they cover n cover each other backside but if public done the same mistakes..it will be highlighted!!!

      Corruption done by officilas are called ‘ang pow’, done by public is Criminal!! make sense???

  20. jean said

    Wow. I’m very shocked by the lack of compassion from all the comments. You guys/gays sure you’re not part of the ‘new media strategy’? I think it’s a good idea to leave the country asap. My goodness.

  21. Jennifer Tan said

    Leong Sze Hian, don’t try to get sympathy from most fellow Singaporeans. They do not apparently see what you are trying to point out:

    • Eveline says: Moral of the story: don’t over-extend your mortgage. $464K is a huge loan to take for an HDB flat. – You answered – “Singaporeans were kind of encouraged to keep upgrading with ever rising HDB prices until the downturn from 1996 to 2005. When your income is sufficient to upgrade, many did” – Wrongly or rightly Singaporeans time again get caught in circumstances such as this. In the past, the government tells you that there is too much babies and everyone should sterilize after the 2nd child or get penalize. Now see what happens, and they are tyring to get people to procreate? or better import future Singaporeans from China and India for the shortfall due to their policy?

    • Nicholas says – They can actually rent out a couple of rooms to cover some expenses isnt it? Only 4 person staying in executive maisonette, which has 4 bedrooms, 3 toilets. In fact, the dinning area can be converted to a room if they want to. But why they didnt think of renting out? – You answered: They have been renting out a room, but it may be hard to keep a tenant, when utilities get cut every once in a while – which is precisely the point.

    • Pater92 says – It’s his fault. He shouldn’t have bought a maisonette unless he was sure he could afford it. Gar Teoh says – They can down grade but then again it will be a loss, I would suggest to sell the flat and temporary rent a place,wait for the market to cool and when prices are low, buy a 4 room flat. It can be done. – you have answered clearly that “Renting needs at least $1,000 or more – which may leave little disaposable income to try to make ends meet. After CPF contribution, the net disposable income (if have to use cash to pay for rental) may not be very much”. From the article, it is also clear that HDB is NOT helping them to get up the queue, and god knows how long and when they can get the flat. They are downgrading but with the many INFLEXIBLE and new rules imposed by Singapore favorite minster Mah Bow Tan, the highest revenue collector for the PAP government, I doubt he will be anywhere near getting a flat from HDB.

    In the past, I understand that the penalty for late payment of Service, & Conservancy Charges (S & CC), was only a few dollars a month. But now, it’s a fixed dollar amount of as much as 8% of the monthly charge, or 2% per month, whichever is higher –
    • what do you expect from a government with NO COMPASSION. They fine you OUTRAGEOUSLY, daylight robbery if I need to put a term to it. Even for simple parking fines – if you miss paying, then the penalty goes up and up, and like Leong mentioned, they sent you legal letters, and you have to also pay for this. So it is a vicious cycle for people caught in this.

    • This case is not the only example. I believe that there are innumerous cases like this perhaps just not reported as expected from the mainstream media. I have a friend with a similar situation and he is only staying in a 5 room flat in one of the new towns, not even in the urban areas. They have 3 schooling children. After losing his job, he ran into similar difficulties like what has been described with the HDB and the utilities people. How can he downgrade when the sales proceed is not even sufficient to pay the loan? Nonetheless he has proceeded to sell the house, since he has no job yet, the CPF has run out and he cannot afford to pay the more than S$1000 in repayments to the HDB in cash. The best part of this is that to sell the house you have to clear all your utilities’ bills, S & SC bills before you can sell the house (next hurdle for Andrew’s family). They won’t even have the compassion to let you sell the house, collect the monies and then pay for these. So your sale CANNOT go through if these have NOT been settled. And to think that Singpower is privatised? So why is the governement collecting monies for the privatised company. So what happens is that – he has to borrow left and right just so that the house can be sold. What if he cannot find someone to borrow from – who would lend in such circumstances – go to the loan sharks?

  22. […] Housing – The Online Citizen: Homeless soon, thanks to HDB […]

  23. observer said

    the property market has been terribly managed by the government. for the majority singaporeans,their homes are their priciest asset. but alas, because so much money is riding in land usage for the government, and all associated businesses( developers,banks,lawyers,contractors,agents etc),the people’s basic entitlement has been encroached upon as they relentlessly milk more and more money out of our land – through the exploitation of the volatility of the economy.

    with every new generation demanding a fresh bite from hdb, can the government continue to deliver?

    if they do, resale homes will suffer and that includes new homes turned resale homes too.

    so it is a catch 22. build more homes to satisfy pressing demands, we may create an over supply and resale homes suffer. suffer because it’ll be tougher to unload/downgrade as the population ages. on the other hand, building less will mean denying new family new homes – cheap and can turn around for profit later.

    that said, the solution won’t be easy. one of the least observed problems which plagued homeownership for the average citizens and its affordability is the divided interest between private and public housing. not to be too long winded, private housing(housing for the rich or milking the rich or simply rich revenues) is part of the cause of rising home prices across the board.

    since the quality of hdb homes have improved tremendously, maybe the authorities should stop building private homes anymore( there are probably enough private homes to satisfy demands from FTs and the rich) and not tempt those living in hdb to upgrade. the way i see it, properties valuation and pricing have been managed in such a way as to perpetuate the excesses of the rich which the average worker can ill afford.

    so the right thing to do is to continue to build more basic quality homes( some say the standard has risen to private quality even so no need private) for everyone( that seems to be the trend and demand here for the majority) and leave existing(other than those slated for future development, we should stop building more pte homes) private homes for those who can REALLY afford.

    if we continue to exploit private homes at the expense of public housing, public home prices will continue to escalate.

    i think it is difficult to MIX the two. in effect, we are creating very rich ministers at one end of the spectrum and the very poorly ministered at the other end. this divide, some will argue, is potentially immoral! immoral not because of jealousy, immoral because of irreparable social damages caused.

    perhaps, it is time to separate the two( decoupling if you like) and ultimately, support majority interests and slowly let the ‘morning glory’ wither and fade?

  24. Mun Kit said

    Hi Jean and Jennifer,

    It’s not that we aren’t compassionate. Personally, I find it hard to understand why with 2-4 (Parents + Andrew + at least 1 more sibling should be of working age) working adults, they cannot pay the fees owned.

  25. Nicholas said

    Hi Leong, Daniel and Jennifer, I understand Andrew’s situation, especially the point where Leong bought up about upgrading. But I have seen worse situation. HDB decided to stop building 3 room flat in the late 80s(or early 90s?) and force alot of citizens to upgrade and buy 4 room instead of 3 room which is more affordable to some of them. I understand some of them have alot of difficulties paying their installments even up till now. Some of them I know stay at Jurong West area. They too cant sell because property prices isnt that great and they are stuck with it. But luckily at least they can rent out to NTU students and cover some expenses. But still they always have difficulty paying installments as well as S & CC.

    Now these people do not really intend to buy a 4 room flat or even own a flat. But as Leong mentioned, they are encouraged to upgrade instead of continue staying in 1 or 2 room. And 3 room is no longer available from HDB so what can they do? Either way they have to shift because government tear down those 1/2 room flats. Now government and HDB realised they made a mistake and start offering 2/3 rooms again via BTO. They realised that not many can afford to have bigger flat, let alone need one for some.

    The situation of Andrew’s parent I feel is different. 4 person, 1 sole breadwinner, executive maisonette, $464K loan. I am sure his dad did the sums, especially since his dad is a property agent. And still go through it. Big mistake.

  26. Sentri said

    Me too. I want to feel sorry for Andrew and his family but to buy a new property in 1992 when his dad’s earnings started dropping in 1991? Sounds more like poor financial planning.

  27. Daniel said

    Nicholas ,
    yes, it could be Andrew’s mistake in the first place, but then how can we help this guy ?

    We can continue to pinpoint his mistake but can it solve his predicament or many others who potentially will face similar problems as him in the future ?

    It is so easy to point out his mistake and dwell on his follies to make ourselves feel good. It is a kind of feeling that says “Greedy Singaporean deserves it, who call him to be so stupid to take up such expensive loan”.

    Unfortunately majority of us aren’t any different from him as even a normal loan of $250,000 for HDB flats nowadays is a hefty and extremely risky commitment given the gov’s policy of FT and money-making profit running the country as business. Who can guarantee you can pay off the loan at 40 years old now ? Will you have job then ? Even more will surely squeeze from the citizen and foreigners alike if history is any indication. Within the next decade, I will been seeing more “Andrew”s around while the government coffers happily drawing $10 millions of salary because party says Singapore deserve such expensive ‘management’ along with the mainstream media says how wonderful our property market is again. Hopefully by then, I already get out of this elite uncaring coffers’ country (You can’t call it a country if you have no say in anything that affect your life, and consider you nothing but just a pathetic digit)

    I suggest everyone stop criticizing him but instead offers constructive solutions because that kind of solutions might just be applicable to majority of laymen and those who read this forum someday.

  28. sogo said

    I too am appalled at the lack of empathy from the comments.

    Perhaps the more pertinent questions are:

    1. Isn’t it the job of HDB, the state housing department, to ensure everyone has a roof over their head? Perhaps it was necessary that Andrew’s family sell the masonette to settle their outstanding debt but surely HDB has a responsibility that the family still has a house to live in after the sale. Opps..sorry, just visited the HDB website. The mission is stated as “We provide home of quality and value”, nothing mention on ensuring every Singaporean has safe and secure housing. Seems that HDB has abandoned it’s original role of providing housing for SIngaporeans, but more interested in building homes for sale to Singaporeans and PRs. So which government department is responsible for ensuring every Singaporean has a roof over their head? None I can think of. Maybe the government doesn’t care for the ordinary Singaporean anymore…

    2. Same with the town councils. Aren’t they set up in the first place to serve the residents, the people? Looks like they are more interested in accummulating money in their sinking fund and make profits from investment of the sinking fund.

    3. It is disgusting to know that in a so called first world country like Singapore, people are still expected to live without water, electricity and gas. Utilities are basic neccessities that everyone should have access to, whether poor or not. I made the decision to leave Singapore and now live in Melbourne. Here in Victoria, utilities are classified as essential services. That means private energy providers cannot cut supplies to households as long as they are paying some amount, any amount, even if only $10 a week, towards their usage. And there are rules such as it is illegal to disconnect supply on a Friday afternoon and during the weekend. And if any provider is in breach of these regulations, a complaint can be made to the Ombudsman and the company could be fined heavily!!

    • sandya said

      Hahahahahah Iagree with u, In malay there is a saying
      ‘Indah Khabar dari Rupa’ That is what HDB is currently….

  29. sarek_home said

    One point to take note is the government’s scheme to encourage and help low income families to own an HDB flat. They said it is a way to help the poor to make them proud and build their asset. But it is also a potential financial trap as we see in this case. The low income families basically are “over-extend your mortgage”.

  30. Royston said

    Perhaps it is true that a lot of us lack the empathy for this family but I am guessing, just guessing, that these lack of empathy come from those of middle lower income group like myself. I buy what U can and try not to live a life of excesses and when I see someone try to live beyond what they can and fail, I can’t help but feel they sort of deserved it.

    However many of you are right as well, there are important issues raised to prevent such problems in the future. Some may say I am naive but I believe the onus lies with us as people. We need to be responsible for our actions and take charge of our lives and not depend on some safety net by the government. Of course we can say the government should do this and that but isn’t that the babysitting we wish to avoid? If the people want more freedom, more respect, we should learn to handle the responsibilities that come with it and not just blame it on someone else.

    • sandya said

      Hi….leave that Andrew, dont keep pinpointing his mistakes cause..if anything should happen to you..even if u stay in a 3room flat n u lost ur job or misfortune falls on u and u hv no other means to support ur family then u will be in the same position too. Misfortune doesnt fall on ppl who never plan for their living BUT also on ppl who plan n plan for their living. These are parts n parcel of life. Today u mayb a millionaire n tomorrow who knows ur a beggar…cant predict!!! if u think can help den plz do so otherwise dont have to say things wich one day may fall on u too.

      God knows the best!

  31. nancy said

    We do have the freedom to choose but we cannot choose the consequences of our choice/s. It’s not that many people do not have empathy but some points are just hard to ignore. His dad lost his job in 1991 and they bought the EM in 1992. No job why still go ahead with such a big loan? I think Leong is not asking for solutions; this kind soul is just telling us to beware of the trappings of “upgrading”. So no one is right or wrong; everyone is entitled to his opinion.

  32. Andrew Loh said

    Perhaps there is hope yet. This is the latest report from Channel NewsAsia, Feb 26:

    HDB urged to be more compassionate in arrears cases

    SINGAPORE: The Housing and Development Board (HDB) came under the spotlight in Parliament on Tuesday with MP Ong Kian Min urging it to exercise compassion in cases of mortgage arrears.

    The MP for Tampines GRC said that while the lower income group in other countries could move to cheaper housing, Singaporeans do not have that option as HDB flats are already the cheapest form of housing.

    He recounted how nine families in his constituency approached him for help on Monday night, having received compulsory acquisition notices from HDB due to mortgage arrears.

    Among them was Judy Mitchell, a single parent with a working daughter and an aged mother.

    Mr Ong said even if Mdm Mitchell sold her current flat, she would still be unable to purchase a smaller flat, and is unlikely to get a loan from HDB or a commercial bank due to her age. She is currently over S$10,000 in mortgage arrears.

    “I cannot imagine in Singapore, where we pride ourselves in our home ownership policy that a family of two working adults supporting one elderly family member would have their HDB flat repossessed and be left homeless. What is our social compact? There are those among us like Mdm Judy Mitchell who are trying their best, working hard, wanting to be self-reliant. I believe the government should step in and give them a helping hand,” Mr Ong said.

    The need for a more supportive housing board was also brought up by Mr Yeo Guat Kwang, an MP for Aljunied GRC.

    Speaking in Mandarin, Mr Yeo touched on the problems faced by Singaporeans who have problems selling off a bigger flat to downgrade to a smaller unit.

    Saying that HDB should help Singaporeans downgrade, Mr Yeo reminded the housing board that its mission is to help Singaporeans own their homes.

  33. 1. Their house is almost twice the size of mine.

    2. Their house had a mortgage of $464,100 in 1992. The year is currently 2008. This is 16 years since the house was bought. What’s the mortgage now? Given the recent property bubble, how much is their house worth now? Why cannot sell?

    3. Family owns a car. If the family sells the car, it cannot fetch at least $3K?? Housing agent *MUST* drive car hor? Cannot take public transport huh?

    4. SP has been entertaining them since 1999. That’s almost 10 years. If SP is a civil servant, can almost qualify for long service award.

    What sort of sympathy are people expecting? 🙂

  34. Selene Cheng said

    Hi Kway Teow Man,

    I am the writer of this article.

    They can sell the house now without making a loss. The problem is not selling the flat, but getting a new flat.

    They have tried balloting for a flat, and also finding an affordable resale flat, but have not had luck so far.

    Rental is a poor option for them. They cannot rent from HDB because they do not qualify, since they currently live in a maisonnette. They can rent from the open market, but the rental alone would be almost as much as if they buy a new house and pay monthly instalments. I am sorry I did not write this in the article the first time — this article was on a tight deadline and it was late at night when I typed it, and I forgot all about it.

    With regards to selling the car, I did also ask them about this. As a real estate agent, you need to meet clients and if the client wants to meet you at X time, you just have to go and meet him at X time. You can’t say something like, “Give me 1 hour can? Your house is quite far for me and I have to take public transport”. It is clear to me that his father NEEDS the car as part of his job. It’s not a matter of pride/maintenance of prestige that his father is keeping the car.

  35. inji said

    I find it weird that at the age of 34, andrew and his sis cannot help. Most Singaporeans start working at 24 (girls even earlier) and thats 10 years ago! Unless you buy 1 LV bag each month, I don’t see how difficult it is to have everyone pool in some $ to pay. I have many friends earning peanuts and paying everything alone. I don’t see how 4 working adults cannot pay for 1 house.

    I do agree that SG house very difficult to get with all the balloting crap, but to sympathize them is difficult as I got a lot of real estate friends that doesn’t own a car. Everyone knows owning a car is a financial drainage and to own a car when you cannot pay utilities bill is simply ridiculous.

  36. Selene Cheng said

    Dear Inji,

    His sister is still a student studying overseas, and therefore most likely still financially dependent on the family. I do not know why she is studying overseas instead of at a local uni; perhaps she did not qualify for a local one. I am also not sure if she is working part-time to defray some of the costs.

    As mentioned earlier, the mother only works as a part-time cashier in Yoshinoya, earning very little money. The father and Andrew himself are both self-employed, not very well-educated, and their income varies from month to month. Keeping up regular payments is difficult, and Andrew himself is also getting married soon. This is a lot of cost to bear.

    With regards to car ownership, I am not in much of a position to decide, though from general knowledge my impression is that a car is a necessity for a real-estate agent. I’m not sure how old your friends are as well, but please bear in mind that Andrew’s father is in his sixties and may not have the physical stamina to take public transport all over the island day in, day out.

    We would like to inform our readers that we intend to do a second interview with Andrew to clarify the issues brought up in the comments, and also to find out if there are others in similar situations as Andrew.

    Watch out for it yeah?

  37. Ben said

    Selene Cheng,

    You are being ridiculous.

    Even if rental is an unattractive option, it is not an impossible option. They should sell the flat and rent a flat in the open market for a short period while they look for a flat. Who cares if it is unattractive? Take it as a lesson learnt on managing money and financial discipline.

    Why should SP and HDB put up with Andrew’s nonsense when he had other feasible alternatives? People like him clog the civil administrative work log and is a total waste of tax payers’ money.

    I can’t believe his dad still drives and also, there is nothing mentioned about Andrew Loh’s contribution. He is already a grown man and should have some financial muscle to help with his dad’s financial woes. I have no problems with his dad wanting a better life and therefore the choice of a glorious property for his family of four. However, he has to be realistic and note that once he is unable to pay for his mortgage, he has give up his place.

    Wake up, family of Loh!

  38. Eveline said

    I am merely stating a fact in my previous post. All of us who are home owners must have gone through a careful calculation of present and future income stream before deciding which kind of flat to buy how much mortgage to take.

    One’s income is never guaranteed and what’s more an occupation that relies on commission? Knowing you’re living in a mortgaged home that can be taken away from you, wouldn’t that make you just a bit more cautious in selecting a home that won’t result in too burdensome a mortgage? Since we know how heartless the gahmen is, the least we can do for ourselves is to use our brains and don’t believe every word the gahmen says. To this day I am congratulating myself for not having fallen for the gahmen’s Punggol 21 nonsense.

    I guess I find it really hard to sympathise since I came from a single-parent family (dad died when we were young) and we lived off mom’s paltry salary as a home-based seamstress of $400 every month. At that time there was no Workfare Bonus (mom wouldn’t have qualified anyway) or those Budget angpows to talk about. She had to pay the PUB bills and S&CC charges, the same transport costs and school fees and so on, which she did so on time. What was in our favour was that the flat (3-room) was fully paid for by dad and we didn’t have to worry about losing our flat.

    Since Andrew is already 34 and presumably working, I cannot fathom how he cannot chip in to help his family’s situation. At 34 he should already have accumulated a sizable savings account. Use the money to pay off the debts accumulated, and have Andrew and his wife move into the maisonette. Forget about buying a new home; everytime you go through a transaction, you pay extra stamp duty and legal fees that can otherwise be saved.

    This is the best solution I can think of. The question is – can Andrew and his fiancee accept it?

  39. Andrew Loh said

    Dear Ben,

    The ‘Andrew’ in the article is not ‘Andrew Loh’. 🙂

    Don’t mistake him for me. I am living quite ok in my house. 🙂

    Regards,
    Andrew Loh

  40. Ben said

    Selene Cheng,

    You are being ridiculous.

    Even if rental is an unattractive option, it is not an impossible option. They should sell the flat and rent a flat in the open market for a short period while they look for a flat. Who cares if it is unattractive? Take it as a lesson learnt on managing money and financial discipline.

    Why should SP and HDB put up with Andrew’s nonsense when he had other feasible alternatives? People like him clog the civil administrative work log and is a total waste of tax payers’ money.

    I can’t believe his dad still drives and also, there is nothing mentioned about Andrew’s contribution. He is already a grown man and should have some financial muscle to help with his dad’s financial woes. I have no problems with his dad wanting a better life and therefore the choice of a glorious property for his family of four. However, he has to be realistic and note that once he is unable to pay for his mortgage, he has give up his place.

    Wake up!

  41. Ben said

    oops sorry, maiden post 😛

  42. Sylvie said

    Like many who have commented, I question why article didn’t mention whether Andrew has got a job, and if and how he’s contributing to his family.

    Sure, if he wants to prioritise buying a new flat with his fiancee instead of channeling those resources to help his family, that’s his right. But do not make this a story of “Andrew, a 34-year old young man who will soon be out of a home in 3 months because of the Housing and Development Board’s (HDB) lack of compassion and flexibility”; because he is not.

    This seems to be a case of overcommitting. One just has to suck it up like everyone else who is having a tough time because they overcommitted.

  43. Leong Sze Hian said

    According to the Department of Statistics (DOS) Key Household Income Trends 2007 and 2006, the Average Monthly Income from Work Per Household Member Among Employed Households by Decile, from 1997 to 2007, for the 1st to 10th, 11th to 20th, and 21st to 30th, Deciles, increased from $290 to $310, $470 to $570, and $630 to $790, respectively.

    This means that the annualised income growth over the past 10 years was 0.7, 1.9 and 2.3 per cent, respectively, for the bottom three deciles.

    So, after adjusting for inflation, there may hardly have been any income growth, for the last 10 years.

    Moreover, the trend of declining household size may mean that total household incomes may have increased even less than household incomes per member.

    The DOS’ 2007 report said that ‘the lowest 10% non-retiree households showed the largest increase (12 per cent) in household income per household member in real terms in 2007. This can be attributed to the increase in the number of working persons as well as higher monthly income from work among the income earners”.

    Does this mean that more members in households may have to work in order to earn enough for their living expenses?

    This is perhaps underscored by the Gini coefficient, a measure of income inequality, rising to 0.485 from 0.472. This is one of the biggest increases in the past seven years.

    In contrast to ‘Employed Households’, the Annual Average Household Income from Work Among All Resident Households (Per Household Member), was only $380, $4,680 and $7,750, for the 1st to 10th, 11th to 20th, and 21st to 30th, Deciles, respectively.

    This means that the monthly income was only $32, $390 and $646, respectively, for the bottom three deciles.

    With 56,900 residents unemployed last year, how many resident households have hardly any income from work?

    And how many of these have sufficient non-work sources of cash inflows to meet their living expenses?

  44. Selene,

    They can sell the house now without making a loss. The problem is not selling the flat, but getting a new flat.

    The property market has been red hot for at least the last 12 months (and recall they have been in their current state since 1999). In fact, the market is starting to get worse. They had a minimum of 12 months to sell the house and downgrade to a smaller one.

    Do your research and find out how much an executive maisonette is worth. Do more research and figure out how much a 4-room flat off the resale market is worth and tell us how come 12 months is not sufficient to make a downgrade.

    They can rent from the open market, but the rental alone would be almost as much as if they buy a new house and pay monthly instalments.

    And so??? Cannot rent until the house comes along?!?!?! It is HDB/SP’s responsibility to tolerate their nonsense so that they don’t have to rent at market rate so as not to “make a loss”?

    With regards to selling the car, I did also ask them about this. As a real estate agent, you need to meet clients and if the client wants to meet you at X time, you just have to go and meet him at X time. You can’t say something like, “Give me 1 hour can? Your house is quite far for me and I have to take public transport”. It is clear to me that his father NEEDS the car as part of his job.

    Have you ever bought or sold a house before and worked with real estate agents? Do you know that in general, the real estate agents can make appointments with their clients and are not expected to appear at their clients’ beck and call. As long as there is at least an hour’s notice, you can get from any end of Singapore to the other end. This is what you do when you take public transport: client says to meet at 7 pm, you leave your home at 6 pm, not at 6.45 pm and expect to get there on time.

    Dunno what you’re trying to achieve with your article. I think your article needs a new title: “Family looks stupid, thanks to Selene Cheng”. *sigh*

  45. peldoe said

    Everyone
    Please read the HDB letter to the family. It shows a better picture of the family’s financial situation. It says in the letter Andrew is not contributing towards the family financially and his sister is studying overseas.

    I hate to say this but if Andrew is trying to get sympathy from the public, he should at least shown that he has done as much as he could for his own family. Not only does he not do that, he does not even pay for his fair share of living in the HDB flat. What a free loader! Can’t believe he has got the cheek to make such a fuss about his situation.

    Also about his sister who’s studying overseas and not on a scholarship, I wonder where her funds for her school fees are coming from. Even if she is not relying on her family for her fees, any filial daughter would have stopped their studies or defer it to help out with the crisis at home. Or in the least, work part time if her visa allows to send money home.

    Lastly, on Andrew’s dad. He could have downgraded his flat earlier before things with HDB became so bad and trying to time the property market when his mortgage payments are already in arrears is not a luxury that he can or should be afforded. If he had purchased a private property, his home would have been repossessed long ago. And if sponsoring his daughter for her overseas studies is taking too much from his pocket, then get her to be financially self-sufficient. For someone seeking compassion from HDB when he could have helped himself in so many ways just smells of abuse of the system. And get rid of the car and change to a motorbike if necessary!

  46. Steven said

    Agreed with most of the comments, I do not see how Andrew can’t help and how they managed to send the sister for overseas studies. Improper planning is the cause.

  47. Andrew Loh said

    Dear Kway Teow Man,

    While I accept your disagreements on the issues raised in the article, I do not accept your last sentence about Selene.

    It is totally uncalled for and regrettable that you would make such a statement.

    Regards,
    Andrew Loh

  48. KC said

    To me, andrew’s case is simply not a reasonable one. There are more valid/stronger cases out there, probably TOC writer should have contacts in the lower tier of the society.

  49. Kelly said

    Sigh….that is why being in real estate is hard….unless you are willng to go out, approach home owners and seek those who are willing to sell their homes through you. You cannot rely on listings alone becuase those already have other agents serving!

    Secondly the family can downgrade to 4 room and 5 room. Then you may still have some extra to pay your debts.

    In Singapore, unless you have qualifications and a good employer, then life is very difficult.

    SP was compassionate enough to let Andrew have his power supply back despite $2k still owing. It was not in my case, when all I wanted is to get a new SP account as my landlord cheated me and failed to pay for utilities. I had to, for at least a few days, put up with trickling water, till I moved out. Lesson learnt, some real eastate agents help their clients to be crooks.

  50. Kelly said

    You have many singles (and very sick) between 50 but under 55…and because of age factor, voluntary charities aren’t ‘helping’. What takes a normal chap 5 minutes to get lunch/dinner from nearby kopitiam, the aged sick may take 45 minutes to do so.

    There is also NO SUPPORT for single unwedded mothers (1 baby) to get their own flat when they themselves can PAY for a flat. HDB – u need to wake up!

  51. Coldie said

    Be ‘realistic’ not ‘optimistic’

  52. puzzled and just trying to help said

    Its a long list of great comments and I hope i didnt left out any fine details…. Is Andrew or Selene looking for directions??

    Anyway…here is mine..

    1st of all.. renting out a room will have extra income of ~$500.. not to mention if they can rent out 2 rooms.
    SP bills will come up to be ard $180 max?! Rental Not enough to cover??!!

    Or maybe Andrew can takeover the house loan and lower the outstanding loan amount by extending the loan term.
    Else PLEASE sell the house. YOU cant afford it.

    Andrew n Dad should get a new 3/4Rm flat instead and let his parents retire soon. repay as much loan as possible.
    No more silver spoons for Andrew. You r a grownup now.

    Andrew’s parents are in their late 60s… great that they r still working.. and i sure hope that they had planned for a retirement NOW.

    the car still ard after all these years??!! by Trading in and out all these times??!!

    Didnt consider taking cab instead to meet customers??

    Can just sell away the car and get a bicycle instead to keep fit. Work in fast food outlets will have steady income.
    Be a taxi driver…. the dad sure knows his ways ard.

    Sis still studying?? Good…Come back when completed and help the family to settle the loan…. Your family did a great job cos they can still send you oversea for study.

    Final Comment: Giving Up is actually a great GAIN elsewhere…
    Humm…. something like tat….
    and finally…

    Cheers to HDB…. 80% of the population has a place to stay!!

  53. KH said

    If you do not have a big head.. dun wear a big Hat.

    Why can’t Andrew find a job? He has hands and legs. In another words, he is lazy.

    Looking compassion.. Andrew does not even deserve any respect and he only deserve to be slap by everyone.

    Everyday i see many old folks are collecting metal tins, cupboard and etc.
    They are old. They should be retiring and enjoy life. But for living, they continue to work hard. They are the one that deserve my respect.

    My father only earn $500 per month and my mother is a housewife.
    But we dun face any problem living without any problem.
    Now it is my duty as a son to repay them.

    DUN PRETEND TO ACT THAT YOU ARE SUFFERING AND LET PEOPLE PITY YOU.
    THERE ARE MORE PEOPLE AROUND WHO ARE WORSE THAN YOU.

  54. catherine said

    This is a fair society. You plant apple, you get apple. Andrew’s father should be responsible for his wrong investment decision – or perhaps he was speculating the property that time. But he/his family didn’t bear the full responsibilities. Instead, he/they were smart in taking advantages, such as delaying the payments to SP, to buy time to wait for their property to increase value. They continue sending children to overseas, Andrew/his parents themselves doesn’t work hard to clear their debt, signalling that they are speculators – I don’t sympathize at all! Again, Andrew’s new issue of buying new flat is totally ridiculous. If you do not have enough HEAD, don’t wear bigger cap! Just go out and rent a room with your wife; then think about saving money to better life.

    I have known people who work extremely hard (more than one job) to clear their debts due to the past property crisis. I have also known people who save every single cents and living honestly in order to send their children for better education. These people earn my respect.

    If thinking about HDB allowance / HDB house ownership assistance, there are many more other needy people, such as disability people; very ill people whom do not have relatives, etc. No matter how, we should take responsibilities of our action and our lives – Don’t depend on others or taking advantages of the system/people.

    Andrew,
    Sorry to say that I strongly think that you should solve your current situation yourself instead of making a case here. I think this is your/your family’s personal issue!

  55. catherine said

    KH, Haha.. we think alike!

  56. Kellie said

    Frankly speaking, after reading this article and analysing the situation, I do not have any sympathy with Andrew’s family AT ALL.

    Firstly, Andrew and his sister should be old enough to support themselves and also contributed to the family to ease the woes.

    Secondly, me also being a property agent knows that there’s a lot of hard work to survive in this line. But whether good times or bad times, we still can earn. Just dun give ourselves too much excuse and sit at home and think…WHY NO SALES?..it’s because we need to put a lot of hard work and sweat in order to make a deal!

    Thirdly, like some have said. They could have rent out some of their rooms to have lessen the burden.

    Lastly,this is not the worst things to happen. The article mearly highlight the worst case scenario but did not mention about much attempt to improve on their living condition.More could be done.

  57. ken said

    Andrew’s case an insignificant case, why make the hoohaa. If Andrew is suffering, then probably more than 1/2 of the world populations are suffering badly.

    Living in Ex. Man., driving a car, sending child oversea, etc. etc. Isn’t that a luxury life? Two young ppls, with both legs and arms, and probably educated as well in other to make such a big case, cannot afford to live in Singapore? Goto KFC and McDonalds to work part time is more than enuf to cover your utilities bills!!! I personally despise this.

    There is a problem, the only problem is, they have been living too luxurily, and hard to go back to the normal life. Just to give a simple case -> cannot even tahan the life of no electricity, do you know how many ppls in the world have been living without utilities? Like the chinese saying, you jian lu she yi, you she lu jian nan. Sorry, I do not pity you at all.

  58. Bar advice said

    When I was young, my brother and I(ages 5 and 6 then) had to get up in the mornings to sell Nasi Lemak. If we were in the morning session school, we would have to sell Curry Puffs. We did this for several years to help out in making money for home. My sister(youngest) also had to join us when she got older. She sold them nearer to home as she was a girl but she worked too.

    As my brother and I got into adolosence we became caddy’s at the golf course but our father made sure that we contributed to the home to help with the bills.

    What has any of the family memebers, wife, son and daughter, done to help in their situation. If I were sitting on a home that worth almost half a million and I was the father, the house would have been sold a long time ago becuase ungrateful people should learn that it’s not easy to be paying for 4 mouths to feed, clothe and shelter. He says,”My father was always a dollar short and a day late”. Basically I believe the father was trying to make sure eveyone had a good home. Not expecting things to turn out as bad when it came to work But to have no help from anyone is just madness.

    In the end if he says at least they can sell the flat at a good price because the market is good. Then what? Let his father buy a new home and move in. Get off your ass all non contributors. Your fofrfathers did so. Why should anyone have sympathy for you?

  59. burn said

    how can most of you not have a heart. We as children sometimes feel so helpless seeing our parents pay off their mortgage loan who bought their houses during the 1996 and 1997 crisis. Selling a house is not as easy as you all would think. Even the accrued interest need to be added up. for an amount of 380k the accrued interest can reach as high as 170k for a period of 10 years only.Now you tell me how are we supposed to pay off our house.ridiculous.

  60. KH said

    HDB is not suppose to force you to sell your flat.
    SP should not be collecting the debt you owe them and provide you with FOC water and electricity.
    How about every month, Singapore goverment give you one million to spend every month?

    WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? PRESIDENT OR BOSS OF Republic of Singapore?

    To Andrew’s friend, Leong Sze Hian:
    Your friend is just a low class worm who does not deserve anything more than a backlash.
    And for you who bring this up to here. Why dun you give your money to your so-called friend and start making a big fuss with HDB and SP.
    My advice to you : kiang jiu hou…mai kay kiang!

    To Mr Andrew:
    You belong to the lowest class creature that i ever seen. Failed as a son. Can you just find a hole and buried yourself. Stop wasting the money of our goverment. The money can be used for those who really need it.
    My advice to you : I will save my advice to those who really need it, but not you.

    To Mr Andrew’s Father:
    You drive a car and have no money to pay HDB loan and SP bills. Sell your damn car and get on with your life. Are you a xiao bai lian? Live with your wife hard earn money?
    You got 10 bloody good years of life and yet you dun save it. Serve you right.
    My advice to you : Bo lui .. mai TUA KANG.

  61. James Ang said

    life is a “gamble”, there are risks involved in making a huge property purchase and many are tempted to enjoy the good life and most are motivated by greed to make more money by property flipping.

    the case as mentioned, the housing market is now so bouyant that the family can sell off their EM and “cash out” of their predicament and should downgrade to a smaller 4 room unit. On one hand the family complained about how much COV there is to buy the 4 room flat but I am sure their EM is expected to sell high too. To expect to “sell high” their EM and then “buy low” the new flat is unrealistic and subject to market forces, and failing to do so and then to blame the HDB for making them homeless is really baseless!

    in the first place the high demand for property is what can be an opportunity to solve their financial problems, but if they want to keep this EM to stay, the young couple should consider to move in with the family. either way, the young couple would end up living with the family since they are selling the EM and downgrading to a 4 room flat.

  62. James Ang said

    my advice is don’t be greedy, you have to take responsibility for your “gamble”. If you want to gamble, you have to be prepared to pay the price for the gamble.

    it is good that the property market is bouyant now for the property owners, including myself although I live modestly in a 4 room flat. If the property market crashed and the houses are dirt cheap, that will present another set of lamenting and complaining. When in this good property market, be prudent and not get carried away. For those facing financial hardship because of asset rich and cash poor, be realistic and “downgrade” if necessary so as to free up some “asset”.

  63. bateman said

    I think the issue is not so much they were greedy or not, who isn’t clamoring for more money, please raise your hands if you don’t. It is the whole system that the government has created whether deliberately or otherwise and knowing that the populace will fall, hook,line and rod for it.

    In the days of the call for “upgrading”, well was also to add to the GDP figures, if you had no spare cash on the side or you were very sure of your job, like civil servants, best not to fall into this economic trap. At the end of the day, it is the people who suffer and have to bear with their rules and regulations, that is the prospect of returning the flat.

    I’ve heard too of people being send to jail for one, two weeks for not paying up their utilities or town council arrears. This was at the subordinate courts when a friend went there for some matters, don’t know if it still happens. At the end of the day, you be the judge of your own financial matters, and best be prudent.

    I sympathise with Andrew and his family and it must be a trying time. Life is tough here if you are on the boarder line situation and nothing is forever here. My call to all of you. If there is an opposition in your area for the next elections, vote the PAP out.

    If you think that Singapore will go down the “slippery road”, I don’t think so, it is those who have voted them in year in and out who are now walking on that slippery road!

  64. Terence said

    Costs for using and maintaining the car can or use to settle payment for the utility biils.?????Can always go for the car sharing scheme if his father needs to move around.

  65. Noah said

    Andrew, Shame on you as a grown up adult!

    If anyone showed sympathy to you, they are truly generous.

    All those who support Andrew, do something for him than wasting your time here mulling over this.

    As for Andrew’s dad, I just cant understand him as a real estate agent who doesnt know when to sell his flat and find a reasonably priced rental unit.I have never come across any agent as such.

    While reading the article, I seriously thought our govt agencies could be that bad to the xtent of sending a family of 4 to streets. Well…they did the right job in cutting the power and all the things they have done to get the money from them.

    Andrew and his supporters, there are many ways to skin a cat. Please Dont use this forum for people like andrew’s family. They dont deserve anything. They will have to sort out the things they got into bcos of their mismanagement.

    my 2 cents worth…

  66. Buimin said

    executive maisonette??!!! the bills and installment so ex still can live in it for so long? long ago shld had sell off liao!!! No money still wan to live so big house!! Stupid PPL wif stupid brain!! NOw open market so ex they sell liao sure earn alot money lor… HOmeless go and rent la!! Pls LA!! ur executive maisonette bill and installment is more ex then rentin…..

  67. Ching Choi Chai said

    Hello people please listen to yourselves, this is not about andrew! understand what you read la! you keep on focusing andrew, your becoming his fans already mah! Read between the lines!

    Its about people having a hard time finding an hdb house today, even we singaporeans cannot afford the rental or the price lah, HDB price keeps on going up, but the income of the people is not considered. Like Mr. Wong kan said, if this keeps going on, singaporeans will be attracted by other countries including foreign talents and then they will become competitors against singapore. It is happening now already, many singaporeans are in dubai, australia, China, Malaysia, Taiwan.

  68. Kamlesh said

    I don’t think there is any compassion needed above, what i see is a case of financial miscalculation to buy a big house without sufficient funds and when you don’t have the guarantee to afford it in the long run. Also i see that HDB and SP Power have given them sufficient chances and opportunities , they can’t provide the electricity they are using and the house they are staying in for *FREE*, it will also be unfair with other individuals who slog day in day out to meet their ends and pay their dues/bills on time.

    Its time people understand what it takes to survive in an economy like today and i guess they should have sold their house long back and moved to a smaller house instead. Singapore govt. and other involved parties are doing a lot to give Singaporeans and others who stay here a comfortable stay.

    I really feel Singaporeans should go outside Singapore to other countries and see “how difficult life is”; i frankly feel their expectations from govt. are v v high and sometimes ridiculous.

    In other countries, u die outside a hospital if you don’t have money to get the fellow in for treatment, Singapore is a much much better country when it comes to issues like these, so people should become more responsible and stop whining and complaining. Also the taxpayers and others who slog hard, have to then take care of people like these who spend more than they can afford which doesn’t make sense.

    So what if they lose money by selling the house, it was a bad decision they took in life and life has to move on…

    Kamlesh

  69. Andrew said

    Wow! Thanks for all the comments. This shows that the article has struck a chord. I can see that we’ve got you talking.

    Thanks for the kind words of encouragement and advices from those who sent them. I’m especially grateful that you’ve not judged but rather chose to look at the issue in a positive light, giving objective solutions, given that the article left many details opened to interpretation / misinterpretation.

    For those who cast the “judgmental finger”, thanks too for you are entitled to your opinion and that is ok. It probably made you feel a little better about yourself, your beliefs and your values. Your comments reflect your personal evolution and I wish you all the best in your personal development.

    Originally, I wanted to ignore the comments but I feel that the real message of the article has not been put across. I’m also observing that there have been various assumptions made and I also see that it has gotten out of hand, with many destructive statements being posted to various people, even the kind souls at TOC that have put themselves on the line to be of service to you but yet get scrutinized. As such, I feel it is appropriate to set the record straight and put across the message originally intended. The objective is one of awareness, to allow you to objectively view what’s happening authentically by actual Singaporeans, in the hope that an even better system can be implemented, to make Singapore a better place.

    I didn’t get to see the draft before the article got posted. The original title was suppose to be “Homeless Soon??? Thanks to HDB…” and somehow the article has come to focus on “compassion”. However, the original interview was not so much about “compassion” but rather to ask these simple questions:

    • “What kind of system do ALL of us live under and what is its effects on ALL of us?”

    • “Is this system setup to proportionately aid the people more, or aid the authorities more? Creating Profiteering from necessities or Provision of affordable basic necessities?”

    • “If a family who was once doing ok, as a result of a ‘slip up that could happen even to the best of us’, can get affected by changes in housing policy that causes a major downward spiral financially, what more can happen to those who are less well-off?”

    • “Are there more of such stories around? Especially those living in 3 room or smaller flats that face similar predicaments because of a poorly developed system?”

    • “If you are also living in such a system, could you be next to face a similar predicament when you “mess up”? If so, what are the ‘red flags’? What are the possible rectifications before the systems affect more of us? How do we address them? Who should be responsible in correcting the system? What should be done?”

    I only ask that the truth be told. Of course, my family and I became the subject of scrutiny. Many harsh /hurtful words of judgment came as a result but I guess that’s the price one pays for allowing their story to be aired to the public. All this however, is worth it if it creates a shift in awareness and creates a better system that serves the people better, including those that wrote those hurtful words.

    As for the assumptions made about my family and me, here’s some clarity.

    • Yes my dad did put us in this situation in the first place. Despite going through difficult years, cash flow for day-to-day living is fine now for my family. Not the best but we’re surviving. The worst of the years has passed. Having came from those many years of pain to this stage, I’d consider ourselves as having dug out of “really serious s#^t” and can at least see a ray of light at the end of the tunnel. This I consider an achievement on my family’s part.

    • Through the years, my mum, sis and I have all been working and supporting the family and its expense (Who do you think supported the house while my dad was jobless for 10 years). What you saw in the HDB appeal letter about me being jobless was a period of 3 months that I myself loss my job and the cash flow that was usually used to aid my family, was reduced and can’t meet the usual monthly payment requirements. I still work and support my family.

    • My sister’s education is not funded by my family. She got married to a foreigner and is studying overseas, with her tuition fees fully funded by her husband, who believes that an education is still very important in order to earn a better livelihood. She’s got her own family to take care of and they are just making ends meet. In fact, while I was younger and was still schooling and only worked part-time to support my own pocket money, she was the one who paid for most of the expenses.

    • No. We couldn’t sell the house earlier because the property market wasn’t favourable. Our valuation could not even cover what was left owing to HDB. We would have been in further debt if we had sold the house earlier. Much worse, not even have a roof to live under. It is only now that property prices allow our sales transaction to fully cover what is owing to HDB. Hmm… I wonder why we still get hurtful words for taking responsibility to repay our debt to HDB?

    • Yes. We did rent a room out that helped us out financially but despite the rent income, we had to collectively contribute more to the installment plans that we agreed to pay to SP, Town Council and other creditors.

    • About the car, what you probably don’t know is that my dad drives an old “beat up” car that IS fully paid. It aids in his job and ultimately causes him to spend lesser than if he were to use ‘car share’ or use the taxi service for his job. Is it then a “wrong” thing to have a car when its expense is lower than the next best alternative?

    • No. We didn’t ask for free electricity. We are willing to pay for our usage and have been paying for our usage and the arrears. The point of pointing SP out was to allow you to look into their system and you decide if this is a fair system set up to aid the people or the company:

    – For those who are in arrears, a letter of demand is sent for you to pay by a certain date.

    – Since you are already in arrears, your power supply will be cut off if you miss that date.

    – Even if you pay up, as a result of your power supply being cut off, you’ll STILL have to pay for interest, reconnection fees and the reminder fee, every single time this happens.

    – If you set up an installment plan and miss payments for matter of days, a letter will be sent to you to demand that you pay up in full or you’ll be faced with a disconnection.

    – Should there be any legal letters that come your way (who knows? Maybe the computer system automatically knows when to do this), you’ll STILL have to pay for the legal fees, on top of regular usage, reconnection fees, interest and reminder fees. (Of course, you may be black-listed too)

    – As mentioned in the article, the Town Council has the same system too.

    The truth about being possibly homeless is… We can’t get a house now because:

    o We don’t have the cash to pay for the cash top up for a resale flat.

    o The proceeds from the current sale will be used to pay up all the outstanding loan with HDB.

    o I don’t have a good queue number through the balloting exercise. Those who really need a house urgently needs to go through that “dance” routine called the balloting system and compete with many other Singaporeans to get a house. By the time you get to be on the top of the list, you’d already have paid several application fees and waited for an uncertain period of time. The question here is “By when will you climb up the queue ladder and get priority?”

    BTW, my parents will be staying with me in the house that I purchase and I know that we’ll be thankful to have a flat.

    I must say too that there are helpful humans within the system, who try to help but ultimately, they are also slaves to the system and its policies and have to abide by the rules set up by their employer (Reality of being employed). However, I’m still grateful for the help they rendered.

    Hey, the truth is, my dad messed up and I know that along the way, we (the family) contributed to the mess too! And the consequence of messing up is a life of financial struggles and facing the music, both externally (with the authorities) and internally (family, relatives and of course, self pity, depression etc). We are taking responsibility and I’m glad to say that we are mostly out of our predicament. For those who still choose to criticize, may you who have never made a bad decision cast the first criticism.

    Yup. I know that when this comes out, there’s going to be some of you who will still criticize but there would also be those who will be encouraging. This is life and it is normal human behaviour. Sometimes people forget that when they point a finger outwards, 3 more point back at themselves. However, I appreciate you voicing out anyway.

    Our pledge says:

    “We. The citizens of Singapore,
    Pledge ourselves as One United People,
    Regardless of Race, Language or Religion,
    To Build a Democratic Society,
    Based on Justice and Equality,
    So as to achieve Happiness, Prosperity and Progress for out nation.”

    Looks like we are a far cry away from our founding ideals huh but I hope I’ve set you thinking.

    Best Regards,
    Andrew

  70. KC said

    Sometimes people just refuse to accept the reality and be responsible for their own life.

    No cash to buy resale flats? Perhaps try your luck at big sweep, toto. ha.

    Perhaps can write in to ST forums to ask for waive off the loans ? ha.

    Can’t wait in the queue? Go see your MP and bang table, demanding for your flats.

    It’s always easy to blame the government, the god, the neighbours, HDB, SingPower, town council, weather, society.

  71. Anon said

    the morale of the story? don’t bite more than you can chew… Exec mansionate…??? did he plan his finances before taking up such huge liability?

  72. Dear Andrew,

    First, I must commend you for your eloquence. I am sure that you will have no trouble finding a job in Singapore.

    Next, perhaps I can clarify my position on this matter. I never sought to criticize you. While I’ve made it clear that I’m not exactly sympathetic, I don’t seek to criticize or condemn. It’s clear to me that you and your family are having a hard enough time already.

    That said, I had sought to highlight above why the writer’s logic is flawed — and if you want to understand why you are getting the backlash, it’s because this piece is poorly written. Instead of simply highlighting your situation, this piece has sought to insinuate that it is a failure of the system. Notwithstanding the new facts you have presented, it should be quite clear to the majority of readers here that your case does not provide support for this claim (which seems to be the central theme for this article).

    The objective is one of awareness, to allow you to objectively view what’s happening authentically by actual Singaporeans, in the hope that an even better system can be implemented, to make Singapore a better place.

    Hate to break this to you, but there are many who are in worse straits, and many of them are likely not quite as eloquent as you and therefore probably less able to get out of a similar (or worse) mess. Given the facts of the story, your situation is only to be expected. How can anyone expect otherwise?

    The original title was suppose to be “Homeless Soon??? Thanks to HDB…” and somehow the article has come to focus on “compassion”.

    That is a lousy title. Reason: if your family did become homeless, it’s not HDB’s fault. Your dad messed up as you admitted above, so please take responsibility for your family’s mess. Why anyone would what to put up such a title is beyond me, if not asking for compassion.

    “What kind of system do ALL of us live under and what is its effects on ALL of us?”

    Tell us: what is wrong with the system as you mentioned? If you family messes up, you expect the State to come to your rescue? Is the article incorrect in highlighting that SP has been dealing with your family’s payments in arrears since 1999?

    “Is this system setup to proportionately aid the people more, or aid the authorities more? Creating Profiteering from necessities or Provision of affordable basic necessities?”

    You seem to be thinking that your family deserves more aid than the rest? Turns out the majority of readers do not seem to agree with you.

    “If a family who was once doing ok, as a result of a ‘slip up that could happen even to the best of us’, can get affected by changes in housing policy that causes a major downward spiral financially, what more can happen to those who are less well-off?”

    Well, shit happens. You expect the State to provide guarantees to families who were once doing ok that they should ALWAYS do okay even if they mess up? That’s not how the real world works.

    “Are there more of such stories around? Especially those living in 3 room or smaller flats that face similar predicaments because of a poorly developed system?”

    Plenty more and more serious, which is why your story is less than interesting and comes across more whiny than anything.

    “If you are also living in such a system, could you be next to face a similar predicament when you “mess up”? If so, what are the ‘red flags’? What are the possible rectifications before the systems affect more of us? How do we address them? Who should be responsible in correcting the system? What should be done?”

    If the goal of this article is to “warn” people, it needs a complete rewrite and a title mor akin to “Look before you leap. Don’t commit financially before doing your sums….”. You want to warn people then please don’t try to push blame. Given the facts, it actually puts you in a bad light, hence my suggestion to the author for a change of title earlier for the said article.

    Of course, my family and I became the subject of scrutiny. Many harsh /hurtful words of judgment came as a result but I guess that’s the price one pays for allowing their story to be aired to the public. All this however, is worth it if it creates a shift in awareness and creates a better system that serves the people better, including those that wrote those hurtful words.

    A lot has to do with HOW it has been aired.

    I’d consider ourselves as having dug out of “really serious s#^t” and can at least see a ray of light at the end of the tunnel. This I consider an achievement on my family’s part.

    Congrats. Glad to hear that.

    It is only now that property prices allow our sales transaction to fully cover what is owing to HDB.

    Precisely. So what’s the big deal?

    Hmm… I wonder why we still get hurtful words for taking responsibility to repay our debt to HDB?

    Nobody assumed the you’re not paying up. It is unlikely you have such an option anyway. In case you’re still not getting it, you’re getting a earful for other things, not for not repaying your debt.

    About the car, what you probably don’t know is that my dad drives an old “beat up” car that IS fully paid. It aids in his job and ultimately causes him to spend lesser than if he were to use ‘car share’ or use the taxi service for his job. Is it then a “wrong” thing to have a car when its expense is lower than the next best alternative?

    It turns out that your family is not the only one around that own cars and many people understand perfectly well how much petrol is costing these days. How do you hope to convince people that it is cheaper to maintain a “beat up” car than take public transport? You know why you’re getting flak? It’s because your family doesn’t seem to understand how to be “poor”.

    No. We didn’t ask for free electricity. We are willing to pay for our usage and have been paying for our usage and the arrears. The point of pointing SP out was to allow you to look into their system and you decide if this is a fair system set up to aid the people or the company

    Please be reminded that SP has been dealing with your payments in arrears since 1999. I would have thought that they are already infinitely patient.

    Ever try putting yourself in SP’s shoes? Perhaps suggest to us a reasonable way to handle people who don’t pay up other than the current “send a letter of demand first and then cut power if you dun pay up” policy? You want them to send a pretty debt collector to your doorstep?

    If your claim is that SP didn’t give you sufficient warning/grace before cutting your power, then please provide the facts and make that claim … and if you’re right, people might agree with you…. and if you don’t pay up on time, you should of course expect to get slapped with late charges. If people don’t get slapped with late charges, WHY would anyone bother to pay up on time? Everyone will just pay up as and when they feel like it.

    The truth about being possibly homeless is… We can’t get a house now because … yada yada:

    Perhaps you can address the question of why you cannot rent first and save up enough until you can pay for cash top up for a resale flat?

    And the consequence of messing up is a life of financial struggles and facing the music, both externally (with the authorities) and internally (family, relatives and of course, self pity, depression etc).

    This unfortunately is how life is. I find it hard to believe that Singaporeans don’t know/understand this. I think you are not giving them enough credit.

    Our pledge says:

    “We. The citizens of Singapore,
    Pledge ourselves as One United People,
    Regardless of Race, Language or Religion,
    To Build a Democratic Society,
    Based on Justice and Equality,
    So as to achieve Happiness, Prosperity and Progress for our nation.”

    Looks like we are a far cry away from our founding ideals huh but I hope I’ve set you thinking.

    Perhaps I can highlight that this pledge in no way says that if you get into trouble because of your own fault, it is the responsibility of the State to bail you out so that you (and your family) do not suffer a drop in your standard of living.

    Frankly, you do get some sympathies from me, not for your family’s plight (though you might have gotten some if the tone of the article was different….), but from some of the unduly harsh criticisms above. However, it also seems to me that you haven’t quite learnt the lesson you should have learnt and you’re still clinging steadfast to the belief that the Govt/HDB/SP are at fault? I hope that I’ve set you thinking.

    Andrew Loh,

    While I accept your disagreements on the issues raised in the article, I do not accept your last sentence about Selene.

    It is totally uncalled for and regrettable that you would make such a statement.

    At no point did the KTM make a statement about Selene. Merely highlighted above that Andrew (not you, one in the story) has Selene to thank for all the flak that he has been getting. It might be helpful to read comments more carefully before responding. 🙂

  73. Mrs Lim said

    Well, like my case, i’ve outstanding mortgage loan because our monthly CPF is not enough to cover the loan (but still paying every month), HDB staff contact us saying that ‘HDB intends to compulsorily acquire your flat and allocate you a rental flat for your accomodation’, we appealed for 2nd HDB loan to downgrade to a smaller flat but they reject us, really don’t understand what actually HBD want us to do!

  74. Ms Shah said

    I was not allowed to retain my 3rm flat as this is a matrimony property as i divorced 5yrs ago and also as I dun have kids .
    I was to sell it in the open market as i have reached the MOP period last year %$^%$&^%%#$$%@#$@%R&^ As i am entitled to another HDB loan , of course i’ll go for it instead of getting a loan frm the bank!! I can only UPGRADE to a 4rm or bigger .Im buying under a single scheme next .My cpf is arnd 70k and loan granted $170K ONLY!!….CAN ANYONE TELL ME WITH THE CURRENT PROPERTY PRICE HIKE WILL ANYONE BE ABLE TO PURCHASE A 4RM AT THAT RATE????????????? I APPEALED FEW TIMES AND WAS REJECTED! IM CARING FOR MY DAD WHO IS VERY ILL ..WHERE SHOULD I GO AFTER I COMPLETED MY 1ST & 2ND APPT..SHLD B BY JULY..IM SOOOOO STRESSED UP LOOKING FOR A FLAT!!!!

  75. myopinion said

    i can understand how andrew felt..When ur financially tied due to some unavoidable circumstances even 10cts seems so ‘big’!
    Packed ur stuff n stay at Kallang river or by the beach..wen interviewed juz say lor this is the only place u can ‘afford’ and dun worry andrew smday u’ll make it again….

  76. make money…

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  78. mayoral said

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  79. Cath said

    And now the wife has to stay with the inlaws? Tough. Really tough.
    The dad should have sold the car. My friends, who are very successful insurance agents, travels by public transport to meet her clients.
    I really really hate it when people blame the government for their own financial folly. In the first place, why buy a executive maisonette for a small family of 4? Also, why didn’t the father just stick to driving a taxi? That’s better than NOT having a job right? He cannot afford to be in-between jobs.
    While I feel sorry for their plight now, I really hope the people involve would just be brave and recognise it’s really their own fault. NOT HDB. Please.

  80. Anonymous said

    Hdb should see case by case n help nobody wants to be homeless.

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