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Uniquely Singapore

Posted by theonlinecitizen on March 17, 2008

Uniquely Singapore

Is the HDB fulfilling the needs of Singaporeans?

Leong Sze Hian

I refer to the report “Government to proceed with HDB estate upgrading” (CNA, Feb 24), where it was reported that:

“On the recent record of more than 10,000 applications received for almost 280 surplus flats in mature estates, Mr Mah said it is not possible for the HDB to build flats on a need basis.”

If the HDB does not build flats to meet the needs of Singaporeans, then to whose needs does it build flats for?

By what criteria should we measure the performance of the HDB – and the Minister for National Development?

As an analogy, if a commercial company manufactures products (like bigger flats) that nobody wants for many years, and then, when demand surges, manufactures grossly insufficient amount of said product (smaller flats), what do you think will happen to its CEO and Chairman of the Board?

If practically all resale flats have substantial cash value over valuation, then isn’t it quite obvious that there is something wrong with our HDB valuation and housing loan policies?

Shouldn’t these policies be reviewed, instead of repeatedly telling Singaporeans to only buy what they can afford?

Why are flats being rented out to PRs and foreigners?

In the news report “Tenants respond well to HDB flats managed by private property agent” (CNA, Dec 23, 2007), it was reported that:

“The HDB had earlier also put up three- and five-room and executive flats for rental through private property agents in areas such as Jurong West, Sengkang, Boon Lay and Hougang”.

As there are thousands of needy Singaporeans queuing up for rental flats, why does the HDB give out so many flats to private property agents to rent out to permanent residents and foreigners for profit?

I would like to suggest that the HDB convert more flats into smaller units for rental to needy Singaporeans, as it has done in some housing estates.

New HDB flat prices will follow resale price?

The HDB, in reply to various letters to the media about the obstacles buyers face in trying to purchase HDB flats, said:

“As resale prices move up, so do new flat prices. Similarly, when resale prices move down, as happened during the property market downturn in recent years, the prices of new HDB flats were also reduced significantly.

By selling new flats with a market subsidy, HDB has been unable to recover the development cost of new flats. HDB has incurred an average deficit of $457 million a year in its home ownership programme in the last five years. These figures are reported in HDB’s audited financial statements, which are available to the public”.

With regards to the HDB’s remarks that new HDB flat prices will follow resale prices, why is it that Telok Blangah Towers is selling new 4-room flats at a record price of up to $402,000 and average price of $355,000 in October, which is an increase of about 60 per cent as compared to HDB’s previous Build-to-Order (BTO) flats at Fernvale (average price $220,000) in September 2007, which in turn is about 28 per cent higher than Fernvale BTO flats in May 07, which in turn is about 40 per cent higher than Fernvale prices two years ago, when HDB resale prices only increased by 11 per cent in the first nine months of the year?

Record prices for HDB flats

With regards to the Straits Times report, “More HDB condo-like flats coming up”, (Dec 27, 07), it said:

“The developer who bags the site will be able to design, build and sell flats there with consultants estimating that four-room flats could sell for $450,000 to $490,000”.

I believe this may set yet another new record for new HDB 4-room flats as the estimated lowest price of $450,000 is 12 per cent more than the last record price of $402,000 for Telok Blangah Towers in October, and the highest estimated price of $490,000 is 12 per cent higher.

Meeting demands of new buyers

In another Straits Times report, “First-time buyers get better shot at executive condos” (Nov 21, 07), and the ST podcast that Singapore is facing a supply crunch in the public housing arena, I find it ironic that the Government has said the HDB cannot keep on building new flats to cater to “all demand that comes onstream” – especially newlyweds looking for their first home.

In response to a question in Parliament, Minister of National development Mah Bow Tan said:

“…. Homebuyers, especially newlyweds, may have to turn to the resale market to widen their options, as the Government cannot continue building new flats to cater to the new demand”.

There is a significance from the risk perspective for bank loan resale flats; from 1 January 2008, CPF utilization for a mortgage is limited to the Housing Withdrawal Limit (HWL), which is only 120 per cent of the purchase price or valuation, whichever is the lower.

Once this HWL is reached, no further CPF can be used to service the mortgage. The owner would have to use cash to do so.

Unlike new flats from the HDB, resale flats bought in the open market with a HDB concessionary loan are also subject to the Valuation Limit (VL), which is the purchase price or valuation, whichever is lower, in the use of CPF.

If the VL is reached, one can only use CPF if you have the Available Housing Withdrawal Limit (AHWL).

The AHWL is the available Ordinary Account balance after setting aside the prevailing Minimum Sum cash component.

HDB ignoring reality

The mission of the HDB is to provide affordable housing for Singaporeans. Instead of focusing too much on building premium HDB flats with record-high prices and having price increases of about 40 per cent over the last two years, it should divert more resources and effort to providing smaller, less frills affordable flats.

Asking people, particularly newlyweds, to buy in the resale market ignores the reality that the prices of resale flats are much higher and require cash top-ups above valuation, which may be an affordability issue for younger or lower-income Singaporeans.

Removing various restrictions for ECs, whilst maintaining the status quo for resale flats, may encourage younger Singaporeans to buy higher priced ECs, and thus take higher risks over the typical 30-year mortgage tenure.

Perpetually-vacant flats

With regards to HDB rental flats, since there are about 3,000 rental flat applicants on the waiting list, and with the waiting time being around 5 to 11 months, why is it that about 5 per cent, or 2,100, rental flats are unoccupied?’

A few years ago, the number of vacant rental flats, according to the HDB, was 3,000 to 4,000.

It would appear that there is always a perpetual few thousand flats that are vacant all the time.

If the HDB rented all its flats to 100 per cent occupancy, then perhaps about 70 per cent of those on the waiting list can get a rental flat immediately.

The fact that they can even get onto the waiting list means that their monthly household incomes do not exceed $1,500.

Thus, the HDB’ statement that “Those who can afford to buy or rent from the open market should not turn to rental flats… and compete with more needy families”, may make little sense, and if I may, is rather insensitive. How can a family earning less than $1,5000 afford a rental flat in the open market, or buy a HDB flat when there are currently no new 2-room flats available?

So, the real question is:

Why is the HDB giving flats to private real estate companies en-bloc to rent out to foreigners and permanent residents, when there are thousands of Singaporeans on the waiting list?

What gives?

Is it not the HDB’s mission to provide affordable housing to meet the housing needs of Singaporeans, especially the lower-income?

Or is it the HDB’s mission to rent out flats to foreigners and PRs to make a profit?


In light of the above, perhaps we should question the performance of the National Development Minister.

The following are quoted from the Straits Times’ reports (see references below):

“It is probably not ideal to pressure those who are very poor to commit to an HDB property (even with the subsidy) as these households should probably not assume the debt burden and may face difficulties servicing the HDB loan”. (1) (Straits Times)

“The phrase ‘getting a home is like striking the lottery’ is used to describe the Singapore housing scheme these days”. (2) (Straits Times)

“Young couples squeezed by rising prices are once again complaining about being unable to land a public flat. The Government will have to deliver”. (3) (Straits Times)

So, how well has our Minister for National Development done in respect of providing affordable housing to meet the needs of Singaporeans?

Are Singaporeans getting value for the high pay of ministers?

In view of the problems being faced by thousands of would-be flat owners, did the National Development Minister deserve the up to 9 months performance bonus plus the up to 8 months of GDP bonus he received last year?

What criteria were used and how were his bonuses derived?

His performance thus far leaves much to be desired.



(1) “Safety net for low-income folk can still be widened” ST, Dec 21.

(2) “HDB demand-supply imbalance a part of property cycle”, ST, Dec 20

(3) “Giving value for high pay”, ST, Dec 15.


NOTE: “Uniquely Singapore” is a new weekly column by Sze Hian on TOC. It will feature every Monday.



57 Responses to “Uniquely Singapore”

  1. Fat Boi said

    Excellent article Mr Leong! Thank You! Ordinary people would never raise these questions by reading the Straits Times.

  2. Haha said

    [ By selling new flats with a market subsidy, HDB has been unable to recover the development cost of new flats. ]

    According to a friend who works in the HDB, this “development cost” includes land cost (paid to govt) and the costs related to the construction of roads, sewage and water drainage systems, distribution systems for utilities, car parks, common areas, etc. Actual construction cost per flat is a small fraction of the development cost.

  3. Seeking Salvation said

    U have a so called world class overpaid government that is unable to deliver and unable to take criticism

    This overinflated prices are a result of their fumbling policies

    1) First was the valuation of resale prices
    2) Their reluctance to building 3 rooms flats causing a shortage when singles were allow to buy, permanent residents were allow to buy only resale prices,
    3) The SERS policy created another shortfall as more old flats were mopped off the market
    4) Building flats in unwanted far away places
    Their myopic policies are a cause of today dissatisfaction

  4. Dr Syed Alwi said

    Leong Sze Hian for MP ! Hooray ! This guy can calculate money related stuff faster than anyone I know ! I nominate Leong Sze Hian for Parliament. Singapore needs him…..

  5. Zelphon said

    I agreed with the article..

    With many blunders that PAP made recently, all these MILLION DOLLARS MINISTER should resigned..
    Else what reason do they have to peg their PAY to top 8% of the private sectors and yet do not have to shoulder any responsibilities for their blunders ???

    I do not see WONG KAN SENG resigning for the Mas Selamat issue…
    I do not see AMK MP WEE SIEW KIM apologizing for his daughter WEE SIEW KIM’s insentive remarks last year..
    I do not see why the MINISTER warrants such freaking high salary ??

    Perhaps WONG KAN SENG should be AXED and then we see whether he is able to command MILLION DOLLARS salary in the private sector…Perhaps that would justify the argument that PM Lee raised that his MINISTERS would command such high salary should they served in the private sectors..

  6. Gary Teoh said

    Mr Leong should stand for election, his knowledge is far better than any MPs,Mah Boh Tan also lose to him.Please Mr Leong form a GRC and fight for us, you are another Jeff Ooi.I can’t believe HDB parking charges increased from beginning $25 to that of $90 now.What is the reason? Land cost increased?Construction cost already factored in, and they have collected the cost over the years.They are greedy.People are fed up!! Tak Boleh Tahan

  7. Currently Spared said

    Boils down to accountability right? Who is HDB accountable to? And who is the minister accountable to? Best of all, who is the TH accountable to? There will always be questions, but I am starting to feel this is too many question for comfort.

    As for development cost? I don’t think that does it either. Flats are handed over when the parks below are still being built and construction is all around. So that we are start paying conservancy and the loan? I wonder.

    The most special thing about being Singaporean is that we are on our own, not care and concern from our national leaders. That is indeed Uniquely Singapore! (Caveat: Not encouraging clutch mentality here… hahaha… sorry can’t resist it.)

  8. df said


    don’t worry, a lot of people don’t support you. i will support you, work hard for more better yrs….. by the way, how to get the forms for emigration to other country ???

  9. Gary Teoh said

    Lee grandson will migrate first,may be break the PSC bond.In the 80’s, we asked for part time degree from NTU and NUS.But DPM Lee that time said,p/time degree, the students may tend to drop out half way,and it is a waste of resources.Waste of lecturers pay, but now you can see there are p/time courses in local Uni. This shows that PAP ministers or LHL are lack of foresight,can’t plan ahead.They govern by trial and errors, do you think they are talented? They cause so many of our bright students to emigrate,but they don’t admit their honest mistakes.

  10. Boboshooter said

    Thanks Mr Leong,

    You’ve touched something close to my heart.

    HDB subsidies are abit of a con-job.

    The undeniable fact is that between the SLA (land authority) and HDB, building “public” housing is a big cash generator for the government. The “losses” and “subsidies” incurred by HDB is due in large part to the “market price” of land paid to SLA. The “market value” of the land is decided by SLA, which in reality, costs them nothing to acquire.

    It’s the proverbial left-pocket, right-pocket.

    While the above just shows that HDB flats are, by any definition, not subsidized in terms of construction costs, sometimes the flats are not even subsidized to market prices. Take for instance the ten-thousand flat inventory that HDB accumulated just a few years ago due to overbuilding. Anyone who knows economics 101 will know that it is impossible to say “subsidy” and “oversupply” in the same sentence. How is it that HDB was unable to clear its stock of “subsidized” flats over close to a decade (1998 to 2007)?

    So in reality there is no subsidy, whether at the construction cost level, or (sometimes) even at the market price level.

    Worse still, when property prices are in the doldrums, HDB does not adjust its selling prices downwards to clear its stock. It simply holds back supply from the market, as shown above, just like any private developer with good holding powers would.

    (Note: Coming back to the SLA, how does the SLA determine the “market price” of land for HDB flats, when the HDB itself is the biggest single determinant of the market?)

    And so while prices are low, there’ll be no supply from HDB. And when prices sky-rocket, you see HDB releases its inventory in dribs and drabs to keep demand pressures up, and comes out with many super-expensive HDB flats, like in the form of DBSS. The net result is that, in terms of volume of transactions, the bulk of buyers tend to end up buying their HDB flats at a high. Whats that noise the government was making about Singaporeans “buying property within their means”?

    They way new HDB flats are priced is also shrouded in mystery. As you (Mr Leong) have pointed out, the price of flats seem to be increasing every year irrespective of market conditions. I was one of those fortunate enough to hit the balloting jackpot after several attempts. The flat I got was one of those left-over flats in mature estates. It turns out that my neighbours who bought their units a few years back paid about 15% lower than I had paid. The resale price index for HDB flats was at about 105-110 when they bought their unit. When I bought mine, the index was also about 105-110. How is it that the HDB had determined that its “subsidized price” was now 15% higher when the resale index had not moved? Am I paying for the cost of capital of HDB sitting on its inventory those few years?

    The HDB’s practices are extremely opaque and seem to be designed to prevent a buyer from making an informed decision. It doesn’t disclose its full list of flats on its inventory. It does not disclose the transaction prices of new flats. It does not tell you how it determines its prices or the breakdown of its costs.

    They need to do some serious accounting to the public.

    Like you said, for the money we pay for our million-dollar ministers, I don’t feel I’m getting much bang for my bucks.

  11. Alan Wong said

    If we were to look at it from a different angle, the land cost for public flats should be zero for the simple fact that it is built on Gahmen land which by implication would mean that it actually belongs to all the Singaporeans.

    So theoretically how can the Gahmen charge a cost for something that belongs to the Singaporeans themselves.

    In many other countries like Brunei, land is given free to their citizens to build their own houses. In Malaysia, land is also given out freely except that it is only given to certain privileged citizens on account of political motives.

    But in Singapore, only our money-faced PAP leaders would resort to such a habit of charging its own citizens practically for everything.

  12. goh said

    singaporean too passive to question the government on policies drawn out by them. well since we don’t question them, they think that we can take all these funny policies. slowly they climb up on our head and start to shit on us. we are also quite cheapskate that come election time, any freebies will swing our votes to them without thinking that they will make us vomit back whatever taken from them after election as always. TAK BOLEH TAHAN !!!

  13. Roy said

    Please send this letter to the Press or pubicise it in public, it represents the views and grievances of a lot of us Singaporeans. Something seriously needs to be done about the screwed up HDB policies and inflexible people at HDB, and the Minister who should be held accountable…i feel the same – Tak Boleh Tahan!!

  14. George said

    Such important information will never appear in the Straits Times or Media Corp. Shame on the editorial boards and their reporters. If any one of them have a ‘liang sim’ they should tender theri resignation. If they don’t, then the man in the street should treat what they say and write as propaganda rubbish and these news people are in reality enemies of the citizen. Collaborator of a decadent regime when has only one rule of governance – the PARTY right or wrong, the Party at all cost!

    We should all rise up as one people and repell the tyrants nad their runnig dogs!

  15. Let HDB sell flats at market value so Singaporeans can know how much subsidies there is when they purchase them under qualified buyers for subsidies. People then can compare the price with the private sector to see which is costlier. Also PRs are eligible to purchase these new flats.

    The talk of subsidies by PAP ministers is already stalt. People are suspicious. The realty is subsidy compared to private flats. It is not subsidy at below cost of building the flat. The subsidied price is still higher than the cost of building the flat. HDB do costing also based on the surrounding area which is public place not like private condo.

    By the way HDB does provide the needs of Singaporeans but gone too far. Just look at HUDC flats. What has come out from them ? Private condo flats ! 1 to 5 rooms are enough, why go into executive flats ? HDB encroaching on private developers ? Why go into expensive build-to-order flats ?

  16. a Singapore citizen said

    Well said, Mr Leong!! You have indeed raise the voice level for your fellow Singaporeans. I have friends from other countries questioning about the mission of HDB and what are the benefits of being a Singaporean yet not able to enjoy the rights of owning a new HDB flat nor subsidies offered by HDB, namely, the HDB Loan, HDB grants???

  17. excivilservant said

    Mr Leong

    Your writeup has been right on again. I think it’s time for MBT to step down cos he has been there for the longest time and having been there for so long, has lost touch with the people’s needs. He is not doing Singaporeans any good with his ministry’s and HDB’s and other stat board’s inflexible policies. There’s something wrong up there! Let me just cite some of the more common grouses that we have:

    Perhaps there should be a radical change in our Parliament. Just like the Malaysians. Let our votes decide…

  18. sglee said

    yup, hdb made easy good money simply by charging $10 per application for the participation in the ballot. 10k applicants for 278 flats, $100k revenue for just a computer generated ballot exercise. at least 8000 applicants get nothing for the $10, not even a chance to say no. is housing something basic or a 4D gamble? why are our scholars coming up with half-baked measures to solve such basic bread and butter issues? maybe we sld get khaw boon wan to replace mah baw tan and openly explore the issues and come out with a win-win solution.

  19. Daniel said

    Everyone seems to forget this country is known as Singapore Incorporated and soon known as Singapore International as she swallow banks and key assets of other countries.

    Can anyone tell me which organization of government and GLC ever lose money to serve the people ? They will never give unless the return is much more. EVery effort to make money at the expense of people is what our government is capable of doing, and I give it 5 stars out of 5.

  20. Gary Teoh said

    To Mr Goh, we citizens did question them during meet the people session, but they just brushed aside our ideas, opinions. That is why I say they are arrogant, they thought they are colombo schloars and we are just lay men

  21. Gary Teoh said

    Recently some of the HDB dwellers questioned why S&C charges are so high for HDB flats, but not high for condo residents.HDB replied for condo car park, the residents bought it but not for HDB car park.What is the difference, I can’t understand

  22. shoestring said

    HDB’s reply betrays how the brains work there. If the condo owners pay less because they paid for the land, then logically, if you don’t pay for the land, you won’t have to pay S&C. But why are HDB dwellers paying S&C on property they have not bought?

    Again, no wonder we are still in the dumps.

  23. Anonymous said

    Development cost is so arbitrary as the name suggests. HDB has to really convince us by providing more cost details , breakdown, basis for just one block. I think a lot of Singaporeans are discerning enough in this age to determine whether it is fair then.

    Sometimes, it makes me wonder what these governmental departments are thinking when giving general eloquent statements / answers which do not bite upon closer scrutiny.

    HDB and to all other government departments, you have a very important national role to play. A lot of people are feeling the pinch during this trying time – and this roof over our heads should not be treated lightly. That is why HDB is called subsidised housing for the common people – and it is so for a good reason.

    Leong Sze Hian, keep up with your good work and thank you so much.

  24. tan said

    great report on the housing issue.. i remember the days when the govt launched the own ur home policy… i relish those old days.. when the govt encourages all to own their homes and also encouraged ppl on rental flats by paying a bit more to convert their rental flats to perm ones.. sadly wat now one can c is tat the govt is making an in decent profit out of their social duty to provide affordable living for its citizens.. i looking at getting my own flat soon once i get married but alas it seems to be a a very difficult time to get a place to stay due to this supply crunch…

  25. Gary Teoh said

    In 1980’s HDB 5 room cost abt $75,000 to $80,000. But now after 20 years, it cost abt $350,000.An increase of abt 500%.But our salary increase how many % over 20 years ? I pity those young generation who can’t afford the so called subsidised housing

  26. Expected Analysis said

    Fellow Singaporeans,

    It is regrettable that the majority of Singaporeans have been largely ignorant and naive in believing the PAP govt.

    Since the 1990s, the govt has been run as a business entity, exacting profits in any conceivable way.

    To reward ministers with bonuses based on economic performance and returns will encourage more profit oriented policies being imposed on Singaporeans. That’s the whole purpose.

    The next area of profitability will be focused on the health sector with the introduction of means testing. There is no need to second guess the real purpose which is to reduce govt’s so-called subsidy. As such, Singaporeans will have to bear more of the cost, contributing to bigger
    surpluses for the govt.

    The only way for Singaporeans to have a better and more equitable future for themselves is to exercise their much precious votes in the next GE with utmost responsibility.

    Failure to do so is most unfair to those who voted against the business oriented empirical govt. Even more so for our future generation.

  27. Fever Guy said

    When the HDB have 10,000 units of surplus people complain waste of money (which is true, coz not many foreigners are coming), saying HDB is bad with planning. Now comes the good times, foreigners coming in droves (Gov relax the ruling, making us compete with them for a job) to soak up the surplus and leaving few for the citizens.

    HDB in the meantime kept building flats at its slowest pace but offering more BTO with private developers. With GOV failing to control property prices, all hell breaks loose with HDB units going as high as $780,000 (any sanity left?). All this enbloc serve the rich well, how about the middle class, poor and young working couples seeking to build a family? Even if u manage to get a HDB, you are slave to it due to the mark up price.

    BTW the property bubble is going to burst or has it? The whole planning is on the wrong foot right from the beginning after 1997 asian financial crisis. No matter what, Singaporeans must be given their first right to HDB flats, be it rental or applying for first time.

    How and why the foreigners are able to get their hands ahead of us getting rental for a five room as cheap as $1300 per month? Is it the case where money can be earn from each foreigner coming to work in Singapore that they are preferred over the needy? This is a lack of respect for any citizen of singapore.

    A GOV ‘s heart that is clouded by money and power will be its own undoing. The next GE will host a lot of surprises…not only the rich, middle class and poor will play their political card well more than any other election…time will witness the changing political landscape in sg. All of us can hope the change comes….coz hope is the only strength we all can rely on and not to forget the blogs a powerful tool.

    Some comments,

    What MrWangSaySO mention neutrality in blogging i think he better dont blog. Either u stand firm on something or u sit on a coach and eat your chips there is no what F*** purity he mention in his interview with the media dogs. Bloggers like lucky Tan made F*** stand even if it is blogging trash full of propaganda. After his interview with the media i stop looking at his blogs.

    TOC is the best!

    Of course, a democrat US president will definitely add more political pressure on this poor in spirit, headless (Who is the boss? Father, Son and holy GOH) leadership, greedy pigs and Spin doctors GARMENT.

    A very good article by Mr leong… he cant spin but he sure can SAY so much more than WKS.

  28. ming heng said

    we are the real master and they are just civil servant. only civil servant ok!!! they have really push their luck too far. time to educate all the people around us to kick these bogus money centred leaders out by next election. look at malaysia, it can be done. tak boleh tahan !!!!!

  29. Haha said

    Daniel wrote: “Can anyone tell me which organization of government and GLC ever lose money to serve the people?”

    I believe it all started with Richard Hu, who dictated that all public services (except defence and education) have to be provided on a cost-plus basis. Under his watch, the hospitals corporatised and healthcare costs shot up. No finance minister since has had the guts to say “No. this for-profit model isn’t right. Let’s review it.” Same with the fringe car parks. Remember them? Now mostly lorry parks cum lovers’ hangout cum mozzie breeding grounds.

  30. Gary Teoh said

    Tak boleh Tahan, enough is enough, make sure we send in 28 opposition MPs to the parliament.See what amendment they want to change?

  31. Daniel said

    “In view of the problems being faced by thousands of would-be flat owners, did the National Development Minister deserve the up to 9 months performance bonus plus the up to 8 months of GDP bonus he received last year?”

    What’s the F*** that these ministers deserve such perk amidst lusterless performance ? Did the coffers rate themselves or friendsInWhite and buddies rate their performance ?

    Simply come out policy for profit maximization, and then use these as benchmark for their performance reward ? That should only occur in private company not government body. Must be UNIQUELY SINGAPORE again ! Isn’t this a Fuc@#$king corruption in the government ?

    Oh, where our president that suppose to speak on people’s behalf ? It’s time to show his ‘elite uncaring face’ ! Stop hiding and if the president still has dignity, should do nothing and not cutting ribbons and attending charity show for $4 millons a year.

    *Comments edited by TOC moderator for use of a four-letter word. 🙂

  32. shoestring said

    What is the historical income ceiling for Singaporean households who wish to buy a flat from the HDB for the past few decades? Has it always been $8,000/mth?

  33. […] Housing – The Online Citizen: Uniquely Singapore – Is the HDB fulfilling the needs of Singaporeans? […]

  34. Gary Teoh said

    our president is $$ face, I don’t respect him at all

  35. Observer said

    I believe that the mission of the HDB is 3-fold:

    1. To make money (not to subsidise).
    2. To control the people (not to serve people).
    3. To serve as a tool for the sustenance of political power.

  36. […] Housing – Where Bears Roam Free: Racial Quota for HDB is for PAP to be stay in power – and it is racially discriminative – The Online Citizen: Uniquely Singapore – Is the HDB fulfilling the needs of Singaporeans? […]

  37. Jlau said

    Mah Bow Tan is enjoying the task of making Singaporeanas go broke buying HDB apartments.

    Then again can you blame him? Afterall, Singaporeans did kicked him out in an election. It must have been very humiliating for him to loose that way, so now its revenge time for Mah.

    “Im going to make you wish you had voted for me..!”

    LOL !!!

  38. Bateman said

    Sze Han, keep up your good work, we appreciate it!

    It is known fact that this “high” price policy is a social engineerng process to keep people rooted in Singapore and to keep the masses on their toes,working till you drop dead / jobs etc so as not to give them “free” time to cause trouble for the state. But infact the reverse has happened.

    People are getting fedup with the high prices and coupled with the high cost of living. I’ve heard recently that young couples buying the new flats at such prices have to top up cash on top of their loans. How far can this go on, recession comes along then what ? Are we going to see another round of repossession of flats?

    The HDB has lost all its moral grounds to provide affordable public housing to the public. Then again, the govenment too takes the blame by “promoting a lifestyle” , of more good years,Swiss standard of living, cashing in on property, but it has caused the reversed, citizens leaving Singapore etc. Maybe there should be a cap on how much we can sell a type of HBD flats.Can this work?

    Then again, I don’t think so, because it will put a damper on the economic figures for the country, chicken and eye issue.
    In the end those who cannot affort public housing, HBD flats will be forced to move house every now and then , if they can even get a flat or even a room when their current lease runs out. As pointed by your goodself, they would be in competition with the FTs and the pie will get smaller and smaller , provide too they have a substantial pay rise!

    Should another government be elected, how can they bring this whole public housing issue to some kind of “saneness” and make it affortable to the people again, whether citizen or FTs. Have they created such a big hole that cannot be covered up? In the end we have to take the brunt of all their policies.

    Infact looking back, it is payback time for many, many policies crafted in the past ( another story which you might to explore ) There are many, many factors to consider too, but I would like to hear your views.

  39. […] Leong Sze Hian wrote in about the problem with HDB. […]

  40. Michael said

    Very well done, Mr Leong. It’s always a pleasure to read your essays and articles. Please keep writing. We really need and appreciate people like you.

    I have one issue for you to consider, that is:

    “Why must HDB lessees who signed a 99-year lease with the HDB pay property tax?”

    The lessees are legally not the owners of the flats. HDB being the lessor is the sole owner of all the HDB flats. As such, HDB should be the one that has to pay the property tax to Inland Revenue. That is legally speaking, we should not be made to pay for any property tax at all.

    No MPs have brought this up in Parliament. Singaporeans are just sheepishly paying the property tax without making a noise at all. Most are ignorantly suffering in silence while the Inland Revenue Department happily keep collecting the property tax year after year. Don’t we have the legal right to refuse to pay the property tax?

    Just imagine how much “illegal” money that the IRA has been collecting from all the HDB lessees.

    If you can, Mr Leong, please write something about it. I will very much appreciate it. Thanks.


  41. ad said

    Bateman says “… Then again, the govenment too takes the blame by “promoting a lifestyle” , of more good years,Swiss standard of living, cashing in on property”…

    Lolz, eat frozen meat and house-brand bread… where got Swiss standard of living?

    If there is no need to be in long 20 years debt just to get a roof over the head, i.e. “subsidised HDB flats” then it’s possible to get better ‘lifestyle’ instead of frozen meat and house-brand bread. zzz…

  42. Bateman said

    Has reality set it and HDB shooting themselves in the foot?
    Have a read.
    “Over 3,000 apply for Boon Keng’s condo-like flats, but only 460 sold
    By Fiona Chan, Property Reporter
    THOUSANDS of applications poured in for a condo-like Housing Board project in January – but as of last week, less than two-thirds of the flats had been taken up.
    About 250 of the 714 units in City View @ Boon Keng remain unsold, said HSR Property Group, which is marketing the project.
    These flats will be offered to the public, probably via a walk-in selection. The leftover homes came as a surprise to market watchers, given that 3,500 applicants had vied for them. ”
    How many were not eligible?
    How many pulled out after doing their sums?
    The flats are not built yet right and when they start building, how much more will material cost go up?
    The Swiss standard of living is only for the government superscale!
    Swiss standard of living does not mean material things but also the attitude towards material things, for them it takes second place, riding bicycles is also the Swiss standard of living! It has been taken out of context and the people bought it!

  43. Mr lim said

    Dear friends,

    so many grievances on HDB and some more no outlet for these anger. no wonder many paper reports on singaporeans heart attack /drop dead / commit sucide etc. maybe we too passive so ‘people’ thought we are punching bags for them. let’s get more people to visit TOC to voice their opinion and get critical mass of singaporean.( passive way which is more suitable for singaporean ). build these momentum till it explode next election. no physical protest right! we will do it in internet. tak boleh tahan !!!

  44. Andrew Loh said

    Mr Lim,

    Wah lau. Don’t like that say leh. Wait we at TOC kena arrested also. 😦

    Andrew Loh

  45. Mr Lim said


    are u saying all the grievances above is not true? if it is true, why be afraid even to point out and hightlight to more people? then why setup this website? for fun ? since main stream media is not doing a fair job to the public, we need information on internet. hope TOC can sell yr website address thru t-shirt sales. remember, you people have a much more important role to let more singaporean know about what WE SINGAPORE CITIZENS want in our society and not let civil ‘SERVANT’ do whatever they want at our expense.

  46. sarek_home said

    Dear Mr Lim,

    It is good to call for “let’s get more people to visit TOC to voice their opinion” so people are more informed and aware of social / political issues. This, I believe, is the main objective of media like TOC and many other blogs. However, your other call for “build these momentum till it explode next election” may be counter productive as it may lead the readers to think the media has some political agenda.

    Let’s keep the media as a informative source doing its best to provide fair information to the readers. There are political parties and groups readers can join to exact changes in response to the social / political issues raised by TOC and many other blogs. Let us not mix the role of the media, online or main stream, with that of political entity.


  47. ash said

    I’m 24 and looking for a flat.feeling the pain in all this rubbish.I didnt choose to be 24 in this year, i cuold have been 24 in 1997 and laughing my way through, yet i have to bear the pain now.

    Comment by MBT,not word for word, but i remember boiling when i read it

    “HDB made a mistake by developing flats pegged to population growth, hence more DBSS or similar plans, will be pushed out so that flats will be provided on a needs basis………….blablbla”

    Simple equation of supply and demand.
    If u always wait for demand before you give supply, there will never be or be little consumer surplus.
    HDB then proceeds to impose a little “price floor” to the property developers.
    A monopoly + a price floor, what else could get worse?

    There has been another ridiculous article lately.
    A person bought an unsold flat from hdb recently, and it cost a good % more than what his brother paid in the same block 3 years ago.He questioned why HDB sold it at different prices since construction cost was already accounted for 3 years ago. the reply from hdb ” Prices follow market rates else it won’t be fair to existing owners”

    My question, where does this extra money go then?

    A sinking fund that literally sinks into pockets.

  48. Niki said

    Thank you so much for this article.

    Those peope from HDB doing such un awful mission.

  49. kelly said

    Old folks being placed in nursing homes because of the health – I can understand.

    But what for those whose children are not supporting them?
    Can a deaf or partially blind parent take non-supporting children to court for their children’s non-maintainence?
    How can one with mental or health problems (and poor) try applying for a flat ONLY TO BE REJECTED?

    Singaporeans are also brainwashed to think that MARRIAGE is the only choice for women who want children (other than artificial insemination or whatever). Single unmarried mothers who intentionally DO NOT want to marry the father of their child/children are not considered HUMAN FAMILY UNIT. HDB never consider this minority group of people human enough to “have a family nor “buy a HDB flat”.

    Many HDB units are empty but none used for those WHO NEED IT due to their circumstances. I have been a volunteer before and I’ve seen a lot.

    Common sense isn’t used in many situations. If the government wants to “control traffic” then it should refrain from building more carparks instead of ERP this and that…. Build more homes…..lesser carparks please.

    Kelly of
    Fan of

  50. kelly said

    I am sorry to say this – sometimes I FEEL that our government is $$$ monopoly. Not being able to build flats according to demand is BULLSHIT. Take care of your pockets but also do not forget about those who REALLY need help.

    And I cannot believe that ‘DUE TO DEMAND and CONVENIENCE’ (you don’t have to worry frozen meat goes bad), frozen meat can be equally nutritive as fresh meat. We all know this isn’t true! Damn….I hope the media stops feeding public LIES.

  51. Derrick said

    The prices of new HDB flats nowadays are just insane. I’ve known a few young couples who were saying that they might as well bite the bullet and pay another $100 more and buy a smaller condomunium since they are to fork out more than $500k to get a 5 room new flat in a mature estate. Does HDB seriously think that the 50th percentile income group comprising of a 2 adults, 2 kids and maybe 2 aged parents can afford a $500k HDB flat given the fact of increasing health care and education costs? Let’s face it, only the top 10% or maybe 15% income earners can afford it without stretching their finances through their pants.

    I, myself, have also decided not to get a new flat from HDB because of very long waiting price and very unattractive prices. I’ve turned to the open market and got a 3 room unit in a mature estate, paying $28k above valuation. That’s what I can afford comfortably without having to loose an arm or a leg. Just across the road, about 100m away from my block, there are a few blocks of new HDB flats still being built and a 4 room unit there costs double of what I paid for my 3 room resale. Insane right?

  52. ronnie said

    Ha what’s the use all these about HDB. Their Policies are long ago preplan it’s out of pressure just to inform the general public, do they bother to look into these matter seriously in their so call assembly talk or just debating on other money making matters, go have a check on their SLA site Apt for rental all are gimmicks, YOU CAN NEVER GET 1 Unit, UNLESS
    if you know some big hooks then things are different you can get them more easily


    See how our neighbour flair in their game of ELECTO

  53. Fever Guy said

    Is the air pollution, noise from fighter planes, bad trafffic, dusty and smelly ike sulphuric air sound good to you?. If not how to make Jurong a CBD of the west? Another big mouth talk from MBT? Can they just keep their big fat ugly mouth shut? Tell MBT to rent a 3 room HDB and stay there for a month. He stay in upscale downtown area he so out of touch with common folks.

  54. melvin said

    Singapore is really an attractive place to stay —- only if you are cash rich.
    As for the rest of us (the working middle class), if you can, try and live in other countries to experience if life is more than just working long hours (its only 12 hours work for me per day), worry about the high cost of living and paying for your housing loans (I am staying in a first hand HDB unit).

    Can we live a life to focus a little less on material well-being? Maybe we can, we just have to explore that. Sometimes I cannot help but agree with my friends that moving out of this lovely island does add quality to their life (and they are not cash rich). As for me, I hope I can work towards the goal of leaving this place eventually (it will be too expensive for middle class me by the time I retire). Don’t get me wrong, I still love this country and the everything Singaporean about it. I am grateful for the good education that I received, but somehow I just don’t feel I have ‘lived a life’. I am willing to work and pay for my dues. Or should I just listen to the government to ‘lower my expectation’?

  55. Mrs Kalista said

    I know the above comments are sharing woes of the government policies and HDB but I am going to raise a query of another issue here….

    Today, I filed my hubby’s income tax online and was pleased (at 1st) to find that we can claim tax for FWL. Then I was appalled that only working wives are able to file at this FWL option and not husbands. Upon clarifying with my colleagues, I learnt that the government wants women to return to the workforce, hence only the women may claim tax for FWL!

    This is annoying because although I am a full time working mother with 2 kids, I do not earn the kind of income that is taxable in the first instance, so what use is it for me to claim up to 2X the FWL I paid off my taxable pay when I am not even taxable!? Its not like I’m going get cash out of not being able to claim against my tax. Surely it is not too difficult to transfer these benefits to our spouses whose incomes are taxable?

    It is discriminating against women who are unable to sustain a high level of employment. I should not be penalised for my inability to draw a high income. Benefits should be shared equally because nonetheless, I am still contributing to the economy of the country and therefore, should be eligible for all governmental subsidies regardless of my disposable income.

  56. Joanne said

    people who really need a place to stay are forced to pay high price for resale HDB, they can’t wait and no parents place or relatives place to stay! Can anybody come up with a great idea to greatly reduce the ridiculous demand level of resale HDB so that the sale prices can be more reasonable!

  57. Kalista said

    I totally agree…My family consisting of me, my hubby and 2 children had no choice but to exercise an option to purchase a resale 4-room flat at a ridiculous price with COV… after balloting unsuccessfully for almost 2 years and with no parents house, renting had been the only option but with the rentals rising in price, we had no other choice…. these days, we are counting on our dollars and cents to pay the loans that we had to take for the COV..etc…with rising food prices, I am amazed how long more we are gonna sustain… this is what I believe not just myself and my family; but what many other singaporeans are going through! Why isn’t the government stepping in to help and put a ceiling to the price increases?

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