Tag Archive | HDB

I am dead serious!

Someone I know sent me this link about the columbarium brouhaha in West Sengkang and added for good measure: “by some accounts, this Lam guy
doesn’t seem to be handling this very well. sounds a bit like the HDB and URA functionaries of old. more trouble for Baby God.”

This is what I wrote in response: “Frankly I don’t know y these people r making such a fuss… Bishan, Takashimaya, even some good class bungalows in Kheam Hock Road r all built around or on top of old graves… soon it will be Bidadari.

So what if there’s a columbarium?

The people in landed prop around St Ignatius Church in King’s Road have not only a columbarium as a neighbour but also wakes day in and out…

The West Sengkang people are making a fuss now probably as an excuse because prop prices r falling and they want out…

If I were BG, I would say to those who want out: “Please take back yr deposits. And for good measure, I will offer those returned units to those in the Pioneer Generation, who have never had the benefit of buying a discount price home from the Government, who own private property and who would like the privilege of also owning a HDB home direct from the Government. As a special concession to this special group of Singaporeans.”

And I would be the first to jump at such an offer — as after all, with the best of effort, I probably won’t have more than 30 years to live and what better way to get daily reminders that I am not going to live forever than by living next to a columbarium!

I am dead serious about taking up such an offer, if it materialises.

I am also dead serious when I say that I hope our Government would re-learn how to take a firm stand when the occasion arises. Not try to accommodate more and more demands, especially when they aren’t reasonable. Otherwise why should caveat emptor apply to anything any more!


Why ever not, Mr Khaw?

I refer to the enhanced Lease Buy Back Scheme for HDB owners that our dear Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan just announced in Parliament. So much flexibility… Yet one sticking point remains. I refer to the oral answer MND gave in reply to an MP’s question which to wit (and to woo?) asked: “For the Enhanced Lease Buyback Scheme, whether HDB will consider relaxing restrictions on (i) the sale and subletting of the flat; and (ii) the minimum occupation period.”

The answer is: The Lease Buyback Scheme (LBS) provides seniors who wish to continue staying in their home, an option to monetise their flat for additional retirement income. If they have spare bedrooms, they can also sublet them after taking up the LBS. Those who wish to move out and sell or sublet their whole flat can already do so without the LBS. We do not have plans to relax the minimum occupation period which is applied to the purchase of all HDB flats.”

I refer to the words I’ve put in bold. They miss the point entirely. If I were a senior with the good fortune to own an HDB flat and wish to monetise a part of the value via the LBS and further monetise the asset by letting out the whole flat, why can’t I? And say, if I were an HDB owning senior who also enjoys the privilege of owning a private property — a bonus accorded only to HDB owners — I will have the option of living in my private apartment, won’t I? So why can’t I rent out the whole of my HDB flat while taking a bite of the new LBS cherry? Even if I don’t own a private pad but want to rent out the whole of my HDB flat while I sleep in the common corridor or void deck, why cant I? I am only maximising the underlying value of my HDB asset without parting with it!! I shouldn’t be deprived of this option. In fact, I think I should be given a pinggat that I have found a way to hold on to my HDB cake and eat it, while watching my cash hoard grow ūüôĄ

What bugs me about our Government…

Unlike what the doyenne of PAP critics Catherine Lim claimed, I am one of millions of Singaporeans who trusts our Government, especially when it comes to my CPF.

This said, I have one bug bear.

The bug bear only came into my room in the last few years.

I had been considering moving to HDB in my sunset years, especially after I discovered that HDB flats as young as 3 years (!!!) could be bought in the resale market. These are SERS flats and they are in choice locations.

One of mum’s friends snapped up one in Tiong Baru when she was already 80! And she took the top floor of a high-high rise!

I visited and I was “sold”.

But like the careful person that I am, I looked to my left and right and then front and back and then pondered again.

Then wham! My option as a private property owner to buy HDB in the open market was taken away overnight. All in the interest of cooling our bubbly property market.

I might have accepted it as another of G’s policies to keep our good ship SG on even keel.

But what got — and still gets — my goat is that HDB home owners continue to enjoy the bonanza of being eligible to private property — whether to live or invest in — and continue to hold their HDB.

Why, I ask myself, especially if the HDB property owner is only a PR and not a citizen. ūüôĄ

Where is the level playing field, between citizens with private property who want to acquire a HDB unit from the resale market and PRs owning resale HDB being allowed to buy private property?

Where is the level playing field between citizens and citizens, when on the one side are those like me — who have never benefited from the state’s subsidised housing — prevented from buying resale HDB and those who have had one or more bites of the hugely subsidised new direct HDB cherry and then are given the extra privilege to buy private, even as the Government is trying to douse the speculative sparks in the property market!

One way I can read this is the G’s way of closing the income and asset gap among Singaporeans! But since our really rich won’t contemplate HDB for love or money, it means those who are effectively held back are only the middle income who are truly squeezed by the falling value of their cash assets, the rising cost of living and their dwindling earning power which moves inversely with their rising age.

Thus if boy-oh Roy Ngerng and his looney gang had wanted some support, this would have been a better cause for them to adopt. At least where I am concerned.

Even then, I won’t have lent him one cent, let alone donate it, if it meant encouraging him to defame anyone, let alone the Prime Minister.

Meanwhile I reproduce a letter from the ST Forum Page which continues to express private property owners’ grief and grievance against the unfair treatment of better off Singaporeans. Resonates with me. Wholly!

THERE are four factors to be considered when discussing whether HDB flat owners who move to private property should be allowed to keep their old flats (“Let HDB landlords enjoy their rent”; Thursday).

First, one reason for banning private property owners from co-owning an HDB flat is the fear of driving up prices in the resale market that could become unaffordable for first-time home buyers.

Without the ban, affordability can be sustained only by channelling more public funds into building more new flats, rather than recycling the existing stock.

Second, residing in private property accords the owner the benefits of exclusivity, prestige and better facilities.

There is a price to be paid for these benefits, and not hoarding a public flat should be one of the costs.

The upgrader has already benefited from the first ownership of affordable housing in the form of an HDB flat that helped pave the way towards owning a private home.

The first-time home owner who goes straight into buying private property does not enjoy this benefit.

The argument that the rules penalise a flat owner for becoming wealthy is not convincing, as there is the option of not owning private property.

Third, there are already schemes allowing HDB owners to sublet their homes partially or in full.

A retiree can even rent out the whole flat after the mandatory five-year occupation period if he lives with his children.

It seems odd that a retiree would want to hoard an HDB flat to support his retirement when he could simply choose not to buy a private property.

Fourth, Singapore’s rental market is heavily leveraged on foreigners’ demand. Whenever the volume of foreign tenants declines, there will be many homes left unoccupied.

Unoccupied private homes are a poor investment. Unoccupied HDB flats point to public policy unwisely executed.

After all, HDB was founded on the basis of providing an affordable home, not providing an affordable investment.

Liew Eng Leng

Pioneer generation gift I want…

… but unlikely to get…

I don’t know whom people like Madam Halimah Yacob has been talking to but as a member of the so-called Pioneer Generation — phew I just made it — I don’t particularly want my medical needs to be supported by the G as a gesture of the nation’s gratitude to me having been there and done that — whatever that might have been to make SG what it is today.

The real gift I want from the Government won’t cost tax payers a cent from their pockets but would benefit people like me.

I think the best “relief” the G can give “pioneer” Singaporeans is to allow those of us who own private property to buy HDB resale again and not charge any ABSD whether it’s my second or sixth property.

That way, it ensures a level playing field between Singaporean HDB owners (who are still allowed to buy private) and Singaporean private property owners from the “pioneer” generation.

By opening the door to more buyers for the HDB resale market, it gives HDB owners wanting to upgrade a bigger pool of buyers to tap. Also, it will give those “pioneers” who already own both HDB and private an added option: they can once again sell their HDB and know they can get back into the resale HDB market, if the need arises. Otherwise such potential suppliers of HDB resale units might be paralysed into inaction.

OK, Government, give those who don’t want this option their medical benefits till death. But give others who may have enough rainy day medical savings the option to buy HDB — which we enjoyed till a couple of years ago.

Go on, Tharman, show that you are a true maverick who can really think out of the box in Budget 2014 ūüėÜ

Where are the SG girls?

One curious fact stands out. Almost all the folks arrested and charged, arrested but not yet charged and others merely helping police with investigations relating to a recent spate of high profile web-hacking, vandalism and illegal assembly are MEN and BOYS.

Where are the Singapore girls, women, aunties, grandmas and xiao meis? Why isn’t AWARE jumping all over the place for this under-representation of the female race?

Are we women so law-abiding that we are never ever tempted to do wrong? Or if we are tempted, do we quickly show temptation the door?

Actually this auntie here could have made up for the shortfall if I were at all gutsy. But I was and am not, when it comes to entangling with the law.

That’s why one recent Monday afternoon, in the HDB car park next to the Clementi Mall, I acceded to one police sergeant’s request to delete pictures taken on my pohone’s Instagram.

Not only that. Not satisfied, he insisted, ever soooo politely, on going thru the “gallery” of my mobile to delete any residual images as well.

Thorough job that and I felt as helpless as I was when I was robbed at gun point in a hair salon in Katong Shopping Centre, several decades ago.

Sure, I didn’t fear for my life in the latest epiosde but I didn’t relish spending time at the police station should I say “no” to Sgt Calvin/Kelvin.

What was my crime?

I don’t know if I had committed any.

I took a distant pix of the good sergeant and his two colleagues, their police car and the SCDF’s Red Rhino, with four men in their distinctive “combat” gear.

What’s the reason they were there?

Because a woman found her son had fallen asleep inside the car and she was unable to open the car doors to get in.

That’s what i understood from a fellow passer by.

What I couldn’t understand was why the police didn’t advise the woman to get a locksmith from the Mall downstairs or from the HDB shops next door.

I could and still can sympathise with the mum’s panic but not the Home Team’s men, who surrounded the car as if someone had died inside, while the woman pounded on the windows calling “Wake up, wake up”. At one point, there was even a civil defence ambulance hanging around. ūüôĄ

I went to return my trolley to Fairprice Finest downstairs and on my return, all was well. The boy had woken up and the woman drove off, leaving the officers.

That’s when i decided to take a pix to remind me of the encounter which begs the question of what our Home Team would have done, had we been hit by a tornado, not just a locked car door?

Alas, I wasn’t allowed to keep my souvenir, with the good sergeant having the last word after he swiped the last offending pix from my camera: We have a serious life saving situation here!! ūüôĄ ūüôĄ

Call me naive.. or subversive

… but there are three recent developments in Singapore that flummoxed moi. ūüėÜ

Take the latest first.

I refer to the victory achieved by the minority dissenting owners to kill the en bloc sale of the Thomson View condo.

The judge threw out the sale, already cleared by 80% of the owners, because the property agents handling the deal had paid a few owners out of their potential commission to sign the deal and achieve the tipping point. They even paid the return airfare for one owner to come back to Singapore from the Netherlands to sign.

I personally¬†don’t see what’s so wrong for the agents to induce the last few critical owners to sign.

Conflict of interest?

Only if the payment came out of the¬†sale price (apr√®s commission) of the property and thereby¬†has the¬†effect of¬†eating into¬†the total¬†sum paid to owners who didn’t need inducement.

Only if once the consent to sell is achieved, the agents then sell the property at prices below what could be reasonably fetched on the open market in order for them to close the sale and collect their commission.

But this would be unlikely¬†as all en bloc¬†agreements have minimum price clauses included. In any case, it won’t benefit the agents to sell at a fire sale price since their commission would be¬†a % of¬†the¬†price achieved. The lower the price, the smaller their commission.

Of course there could be suspicion that agents who induce critical stragglers to sign have hidden agendas, such as selling the property below its true value and then collecting kick backs from the buyer.

But as pointed out earlier if there is a realistic and market sensitive reserve price, fire sales are unlikely.

If under-table shenanigans are discovered then of course the agents and their co-conspirators should be dealt with to the full extent of the law. Send them to jail and throw away the key!

This wasn’t the case with Thomson View. Hopefully, our law enforcers would in future see that there are inducements¬†which are practical, legal and ethical¬†and those that aren’t.

Which brings me to the 2nd development:¬†curtailing the privilege of alumni from elite primary schools¬†sending their kids¬†to their parents or grandparents’¬†alma mater.

In my view, all alumni should retain their priority registration intact. These schools should open their doors to those with no alumni connection only if and when their alumni have got all the places they need for their offspring.

Unfair to children not blessed with such well-connected parents?


If every school in SG is a good school, then let kids without parental connections go to those which have as yet to grow such a network.

If not every school is a good school, then MOE should hot-house those schools that have, for whatever reason, been unable to build up cohorts of loyal alumni. But not disrupt the prioritised inflow of schools that have already built their alumni families of multi-generations!

To prevent inbreeding and infuse new blood? Let that come naturally via any unfilled places left over annually or let the affected schools find their own solution, not have it imposed by fiat by the Government.

Unfair to those without parental connections?

Well, no more unfair than it is for those who own HDB homes being allowed to buy and continue to buy private property. Whereas those who own private property no longer have the reverse privilege to buy HDB, even when such buyers were confined to the resale unsubsidised HDB market, in days when the rules were different.

By contrast, most of¬†those who own HDB have already had one or several bites of the state’s subsidy-cherry. Yet¬†they continue to enjoy the privilege of buying private, while holding onto heavily subsidised assets.

How much unfairer can things get, you tell me!

Since the presumably better off are handicapped in the housing market, is it so outrageous then that the presumably less advantaged be somewhat left out in the cold when it comes to schooling in brand name primary schools?

While I believe in a more equal and inclusive¬†society, I don’t believe that to achieve¬†such equality¬†G should level up one segment of¬†Singaporeans while having policies that level down¬†the presumed better connected and better off ūüôĄ

In any case, if Singapore truly wants to build tradition, encourage real appreciation of heritage, continuity and community bonding, then depriving some descendants of alumni from attending the schools of their forefathers is hardly the best route to achieve such ends.

This brings me to the curious case of famous surgeon Susan Lim and the fees she charged a deceased relative of the Sultan of Brunei.

So our courts and her peers have found and continue to find her fees to be exorbitant! Case closed!

But like I had said in an earlier post — https://singaporegirl.wordpress.com/?s=susan+lim¬†— I don’t belong to the camps that condemn her.

This is because there is plenty of choice for medical treatment in SG and Dr Lim, like your rich and famous Kim Robinsons and Michelin starred chefs, should be free to impose ridiculous fees on those who have money to burn and seek brand-name service providers, be it doctor, hair dresser, cook or bottle washer.

Instead, the courts and medical fraternity’s¬†indignation and ire¬†should be directed at doctors who turn away patients who can’t pay — telling them to go to A&E or retaining prescribed medicine until they bring the full sum to pay for consultation and drugs!

Charging what your rich patient can very well bear isn’t about ethics. But not attending to a sick person because he doesn’t have the means to pay is!

Such wicked doctors don’t exist in SG? I wait to be convinced!

To conclude, I wish my self-righteous fellow citizens, including our judges, would direct their disapproval, better still anger, at things such as the strange metamorphosis of a tender for a $19.14million project by the Republic Polytechnic to develop an academic system.

After the deadline, the poly allowed a vendor to submit a revised proposal. Bad enough, right?

Worse! It was a substantial change from the original tender, says the Straits Times,¬†citing¬†the G’s Auditor General annual report which highlights cases of cavalier behaviour by those who handle our country’s coffers.

Worst! This substantial change wasn’t disclosed to the tender approving authority and believe it or not, the vendor who re-submitted got the contract.

I rest my case. And I don’t even wonder why there’s no Committee of Inquiry for all those scandalous cases¬†involving our civil servants that run to millions of dollars¬†or dozens of illicit occasions for cheap sex, often in car parks, for crying out loud! ūüė•

Khaw Boon Wan doesn’t geddit!

The media says that Mr Khaw Boon Wan told¬†a Our Singapore¬†Conversation group that there is “something wrong somewhere” with the Executive Condominium (EC) scheme and the scheme cannot carry on in its current form.

Here is the link to the Straits Times version of this confession and the brick bats thrown at him for his belated Eureka moment!

I could have told him so — and did — in January when I wrote a post extensively on the G’s Medusa-like HDB policies. Here is the link and the screen shot.

not just EC policy, Mr Khaw :(

not just EC policy, Mr Khaw ūüė¶

I¬†believe the most important and urgent U-turn is for G to stop continuing to promise all future Singaporeans a HDB home. The first, second and 3rd generations of Singaporeans born and bred¬†have already had their first and in some cases second and third — and for all we know even fourth!! — bites.

Let fourth and future generations either inherit, rent or work and save up to buy from the market, whether HDB resale or private.

Otherwise¬†G may be doing to future generations what Singapore used to laugh at — the welfare state of our ex-colonial masters which ultimately took the Great out of Britain!

We — at least I — don’t want the PAP’s¬†80% public housing policy to be the Archilles heel that takes the zing out of Singapore ūüôĄ ūüė•