As the population
target “worse-case scenario” or “projection” of 6.9m as envisaged by the White Paper will require a lot more public housing, here are some constructive, nation-building ideas from me on how to avoid rabbit hatches, or battery-hen housing, in the sky. We can live like pigs in a modern-day Danish farm: comfortable, hygienic surroundings. Danish farmers believe that happy pigs produce the best bacon: something the PAP govt should take to heart, “Keep the exploited happy, and they will remain happy to be exploited”.
But first I want to analyse two “buah tahan” comments that irritate me.
Who comes out with the most stupid comment on the row on Executive Condos? No it’s not Khaw, surprising; but one Jaimie Chong, an EC penthouse owner. She thinks she will still get permission to cover the “open” space: EC0001. Her agent says so. How dumb can this rich gal get?
And secondly, our dear leader said, ” If government did not get involved in housing, it would be like Hong Kong: overcrowded and subject to high prices …” Is it not surprising that the usual S’pore self-haters who populate the pages of TRE, TOC and Facebook didn’t challenge him on this?
He is telling us a Hard Truth (perhaps the only one) that is grounded in fact: in housing, the PAP govt does more for S’poreans, than the HK govt.
— “In 2012, HDB offered a record number of 34,237 new flats comprising 27,084 new flats under the Build-To-Order (BTO) system and 7,153 balance flats under the Sales of Balance Flats Exercise … HDB had earlier announced that at least 20,000 BTO flats are planned for 2013. HDB is finalising its building plans for 2013 and will now target to launch at least 23,000 BTO flats. These projects will have a good geographical spread in various towns/estates which compares with 75,000 completed over the past five years.” (HDB)
— Contrast this with what HK’s CEO said last month as reported by the BBC, “He promised action to address a property crunch that has seen some residents forced out of the property market and even into tiny so-called “cubicle homes”.
Land would be both re-zoned and reclaimed so it could be developed for housing, leading to a greater supply, he said. A target of 100,000 new public housing units would also be set for the five years from 2018.
“As long as the housing shortage persists, we have no alternative but to restrict external demand and curb speculative activities,” he said.”
The 20,000 a year HK programme starts in 2018.
But it’s only two cheers for PM, because by comparing our public housing programme to that of HK, he is forgetting that dad was a “social democrat” (dad said that in his books), not an ang moh lord or HK property tycoon: social democrats believe in raising living standards. So, of course, the govt had to get involved in public housing.
Now to the constructive, nation-building part on how make us as happy as Danish pigs, not as unhappy as battery hens.
Try this Dutch approach, Khaw? No not land reclamation. Architects in Holland are creating prototype neighbourhoods of sustainable floating houses. Their aim is to have new cities entirely out at sea as an alternative way of living. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-21180779. We got plenty of sea too, and the weather’s a lot nicer.
And best of all, we can retain the central catchment reserve, Ubin, the mangrove swamps (so beloved by mosquito-lovers) and the golf courses (that ministers and senior civil servants, and their private sector pals play on).
And floating towns will allow S’pore the possibility of experimenting with an alternative to 50-storey HDB
coops flats. We could have hutong-style community housing (high density, low rise buildings) in the new sea towns. Plenty of room to expand sideways there. I read somewhere that London is experimenting along the lines of high density, low rise buildings . Can’t locate the link to story.
BTW, watch this 2011 BBC video clip on S’pore : Urban plan S’pore style http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-13852298. The architect who wants “more space” must be very upset with Khaw’s “worse-case scenario”.