The cure for our HDB woes?


Is there an urgent need for a change in HDB policies, as literally there are more Singaporeans who are severely affected, as each day passes by?

Some suggestions for mitigating what is arguably, the mother of Singaporeans’ problems – their HDB flat which may start declining in value after 40 years to zero at end of the typical 99-year lease:

… remove the restrictions on the use of CPF and housing loans on older flats, introduced a few years ago

This may allow market forces to determine the demand, supply and value of HDB flats, instead of artificial and arbitrary intervention through changing government policies.

… be transparent about how exactly flats are prioritised to be selected for the Selective Enbloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS)

This would remove the ‘perceptual’ issue of “if you don’t vote for us – your flat may not get priority for SERS” – in a sense akin to the past – “if you don’t vote for us – your flat won’t get upgraded”.

… stop allowing permanent residents (PRs) to buy resale flats

… disclose the construction and land costs of BTO flats, so that we can see the profits being made

Stop charging land at market rates.

… remove or review many of the unreasonable HDB eligibility policies like excluding former property owners (one may fall into hard times in one’s lifetime), $1,500 household income limit for rental flats, etc

… allow Airbnb like most countries in the world

This may help to monetise with more flexibility and higher income.

… extend the lease at the end of 99 years for a nominal sum like other countries, if the Government does not decide to demolish the flats for redevelopment at that time.

If and when the Government decides to demolish – there should be adequate compensation and/or alternative housing provisions.

There should be transparency and public scrutiny of demolishing flats to sell at market rates to the highest bidder.

Otherwise, there may be a conflict of interest.

Much of the above suggestions are simply what other countries do for public housing, instead of our ‘Uniquely Singapore’ public housing policies!

Leong Sze Hian

About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.