Posts Tagged ‘Public Housing’

SG50/ HDB: PAP man didn’t take salary? Kidding me leh?

In Infrastructure, Political governance on 18/03/2015 at 5:20 am

Continuing the theme of the HDB and public housing, let’s remember Lim Kim San.

I had tot of him when I read this a few weeks ago: My grandfather sold his plot of land to the government in the 1960s and moved into a HDB or Housing Development Board home, thousands of which were sprouting up all over the island. It was an affordable way for Singaporeans to buy property and raise their standard of living.

“We had a huge task when we first started in 1960. At that time our population size was 1.6 million, out of that, 1.3 million lived in squatters – not to count thousands of others living in slum areas and old buildings,” says Liu Thai Ker, who was known as Singapore’s “master planner” in the 70s and 80s. The new HDB towns that Liu oversaw came with their own schools, shops and clinics. The high-rise buildings introduced many Singaporeans to the miracles of flushing toilets and clean water at the turn of a tap.

By 1985, in just one generation, Liu says, the HDB was so successful in its rehousing policy that Singapore could claim to have “no homeless, no squatters, no poverty ghettos and no ethnic enclaves”.

Sad that Lim had not been mentioned. Maybe the BBC writer, an FT of S’pore origin, didn’t know about him because I get the impression that he has been moved into the margins of the right narrative of our history despite being highly  praised by one one of the Government’s past “political entrepreneurs”, who had seized opportunities using powers of analysis, imagination, a sense of reality, drive and character, “He has a lively, practical mind …”

Let’s start at the beginning. He volunteered  in 1960 to be the HDB’s first chairman and was not paid for three years (but (Jos, Grace and Hen should take note) it seems. But then he was rich, very rich and as an Oz tycoon said A$5m is enough money to live on, though I’m sure Jos and Grace will disagree: money always not enough say the aunties.

He was in charge of the massive construction of high-rise, low-cost (Note: not affordable) housing that made the PAP popular with the masses.

LKY said he could organise and plan. But his planning was “rough and ready”: using simple estimates, not derived from detailed stats (there were none then) and detailed analysis (not that number of number and data crunchers around, and there were no computers).

Critics said he could not build 1,000 units a year because the HDB did not have the capability and the materials to reach the target. By the time a committee published its report on whether HDB could reach the target, the HDB had already completed 1,000 units of housing.

I’ll let his Wikipedia entry tell the rest of the  story.

In the first Five Year Housing Program, HDB achieved its goal of completing 5000 units of housing by 1965. The largest project at that time was Queenstown, a satellite town of more than 17,500 apartments capable of housing close to 22,000 people. The new neighborhood was built as a self-contained entity, with all amenities and shops built along with the houses, so people will not need to travel to other areas for basic necessities, thereby lowering traffic congestion. This philosophy (which was ultimately extended with the concept of regional centre), is generally accredited by many to have significantly contributed to the lower rate of congestion and burden on the central business district than before. [If so good why CBD charges introduced? And then island-wide tolls? Raise monney isit?]

In May 1961, the Bukit Ho Swee Fire broke out and some 16,000 people became homeless. Under Lim’s guidance, the relocation and reconstruction of the lost housing was completed in just over four years, and 1200 housing flats were made available to those who lost their homes in the fire.

The success of the housing project was considered by some to stem mainly from the standardized architectural designs that were used. Another important factor was Lim’s decision to use private contractors rather than employing construction workers directly. This allowed the HDB to supervise the contractors to ensure standards, rather than dealing with minute problems. Also, overall cost was kept low by using a large pool of contractors and different sources of building materials.

There are some who said that by solving Singapore’s housing problem, Lim saved the PAP in the process. However, Lim himself was more modest, saying the success of the housing programme was also due to government funding, as housing was, and still is, a top priority.

Part of Lim’s success at the HDB was that he had the trust of the Prime Minister at the time, Lee Kuan Yew. He also worked closely with the Minister of Finance at the time, Goh Keng Swee. These connections allowed Lim keep the housing program well-funded. Another political factor that allowed the success of the Housing Project was that Lim managed to cut through bureaucratic red tape and rigid regulations that would have otherwise hindered the housing program.

As to why he’s almost invisible? Maybe because he didn’t take a salary for three yrs? I mean with Grace, and Grace, you can figure out why he can’t be that popluar among younger PAP ministers. .

One cheer for the PAP’s housing policy?

In Infrastructure on 17/03/2015 at 4:56 am

During the Parliament debate on Tuesday (10 Mar), National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan talked about the affordability of HDB BTO flats and how Singapore housing system is better than other countries’, “Recently, UK newspaper The Independent (Jan 23) had an article and with this headline: ‘Londoners queue overnight in sub-zero temperatures to buy one bedroom flat for 400,000 pounds’. 400,000 British pounds is equivalent to about S$840,000. On the same day, in Hong Kong, South China Morning Post (Jan 23) reported 130,000 applications for 2,160 subsidised flats in Hong Kong. The article’s headline reads: ‘Only 1 in 60 chance to win in Hongkongers’ rush for subsidised flats’. The flats, which are roughly the size of our 2-room flats, are priced between HK$1.9million and HK$3.3 million. This is more than 4 times our Build-to-Order (BTO) prices.”

“I think they put into better perspective our much more benign situation in Singapore,” he added.

He got a earful from TRE regular contributor Chris K who has lived in London.

I leave it to a letter righter to the FT to put the situation in the UK into perspective for us S’poreans: “For the young rent is over 40% of wages. Why do we have to keep paying the rentiers who generate no wealth? We don’t need a new productivity revolution we need to crush the rentiers. There is your paradigm shift.”

But many S’poreans for all of Khaw’s KPKBing about our HDB policies shares one problem with the Brits: Lord Best has spent a lifetime working in social housing and sums up how things stand: “Everybody under 40 has got some kind of housing problem. They’re paying too much for their mortgage, they’re paying too much for their rent, they’re in trouble one way or the other.”

Interesting even that lover of all things HK, Goh Meng Seng, hasn’t attacked Khaw’s comments on HK’s public housing programme. Neither has any other anti_PAP cybernut. In fact no-one has it seems.

So we are one up on HK? One cheer then.



Recognise this ang moh description of our HDB system?

In Uncategorized on 16/03/2015 at 4:57 am

In a recent article in the FT entitled “How to ensure the lowest paid aren’t forced out of cities”, this is how our HDB system was described:

The most obvious reaction to a market failure is to remove the market. … the state can step in. In Singapore, for example, 80 per cent of the population live in homes built by a government body, the Housing and Development Board (HDB).

It was set up in 1960 in a bid to clear up the city-state’s pervasive slums, and later turned into an all-purpose housebuilder and landlord. The vast majority of Singaporean households own their homes leasehold, with the HDB as the freeholder. The HDB also finances home buyers at preferential rates.

The HDB will only sell to Singaporean citizens, not foreigners. Maximum income ceilings also apply.

This popularises housing, preventing it from turning into an investment asset class which investors can pour cash into. Home ownership in Singapore is widespread, savings rates are high and the housing system has been credited as one of the factors in the country’s transformation from a third-world economy to a global powerhouse.

On the downside, such control gives the government a lot of power. For example, until 1991 the HDB would not sell to single people aged under 35, as part of the government’s attempts to promote marriage.

The market restrictions can also prevent people from building up an asset to fall back on in hard financial times, or in retirement. In many other countries, homes have replaced pensions as many people’s source of financial security.

If so good, how come so many people complaining online anonymously about the system?

I mean one anti-PAP complainer even complained that he had to sell his 5-room flat and downgraded to invest in his daughter’s future: sending her abroad to study medicine because she didn’t get the straight As to get into medical school here.

Shouldn’t he get on his knees before this photo and thank the PAP for his gd fortune: that selling his HDB leasehold could fund his investment in his daughter?

My serious point is that unlike our public transport MRT system*, our HDB system works pretty well. It can be improved and made really affordable. But by other major cities’ standards, there is affordable housing for the less well-off.


*Our public bus system works well during off-peak hours. I know; I use it regularly. Btw, I’ll soon be eligible for senior citizens’ concession.

A long standing CPF sore remains untreated

In Financial competency, Financial planning, Political governance on 23/02/2015 at 5:29 am

On Friday, someone (no PAP rat) mumbled something about rising expectations as though it was a bad thing. I said given high ministerial and civil service salaries, very high expectations and standards must be the quid pro quo for the salaries especially as ministers and civil servants seem to have security of office despite non-performance (think Yaacob, Mah Bow Tan, Raymond Lim, Lim Hng Khiang). He conceded the reasonableness and fairness of the link.

Yesterday, I read something in TRE which should have been solved a long time ago by the PAP administration (ministers and senior bureaucrats) but not: S’poreans, after the age of 55, having to make HDB* mortgage payments in cash , even though they have some money somewhere in the CPF accoint which remains locked up..

I been driving taxi for the past 5 years now and recently turned 55. For the past 9 years, I have had zero CPF contributions and have slowly used up all the remaining balance in my CPF Ordinary Account to pay for my monthly HDB loan. I even had to give up all my insurance policies, since I couldn’t afford to pay the premiums any longer.
Earlier in the year, I sought assistance from my PAP MP to use my CPF Special Account, which still had about $90K balance left but which is utterly useless since it falls far below the stupid Minimum Sum of $155K. After my MP’s appeal, CPF Board allowed usage of my Special Account to pay my monthly HDB loan (of course la, appeal from PAP MP what!).
To my huge surprise, I have now received an officious letter from HDB asking me to pay cash for my monthly housing loan because of my turning 55. This means that my Special Account has now been converted into a “Retirement Account” and because it falls way short of the $155K Minimum Sum, I could no longer use my stupid CPF to pay for my HDB loan. This is how idiotic the law works against those Singaporeans like myself who are struggling to make ends meet everyday.

On Facebook someone posted this in sympathy:

Many people will not have that minimum $155k in their CPF when they turn 55 because a lot of it will have been used to pay for housing. Unless they bought their house at the age of 25, many will still be serving their home loans when they reach 55**.

So, if they do not have the minimum $155,000 in their CPF by the time they are 55, does that mean they must use cash and cannot use the monies in their CPF?

What if after using cash, they only left with a few hundred dollars each month?

Who knows? Maybe after 55, they start to get pay cuts and their children are in their early 20s and servicing their own education loans?

I cannot fault the logic of these complaints.

There should be provision within the rules to ensure that someone in this situation can automatically keep on using his “Retirement Account” to fund his HDB mortgage payments. “Lose the flat so that he got retirement fund”: WTF?

Sadly the whole CPF system is in such a mess that the following extract from the FT about the USSR reminds me of the problems of reforming the CPF system: Before the Soviet Union collapsed, Russians compared the problem of breaking free from their Communist past to a frog in a swamp that wants to jump out but finds it has a hippopotamus stuck to its backside.

The PAP will only tinker with this sacred cow and Hard Truth.

But will S’poreans trust an Oppo coalition (assuming the WP joins such a coalition) to solve the problem? Somehow I doubt this too.because support for the opposition comes from disenchantment with the PAP administration – and is not a vote of confidence for the opposition parties.

So the tinkering goes on but let’s hope this sore is treated soon.

*Actually all mortgage payments but if one has private property, one can look after one’s self.

**And do remember that the really rich minister said a HDB flat was affordable because it could paot-off over 30 yrs. The HDB now restricts the period to 25 yrs.

Did HDB, URA officials mislead MP?

In Public Administration on 17/02/2015 at 4:27 am

Let’s revisit shumething that was the talk of cyberspace only a few weeks ago: a commercial columbarium near a residential estate.

There is a seemingly major contradiction in what the PAP MP told us the authorities told him and what Khaw said in parliament on the issue of Eternal Pure Land winning a bid to build a temple  Dr Lam Pin Min said that the authorities (presumably URA and HDB) had assured him that commercial firms could bid for land earmarked for religious purposes*. That is why he defended the tender at the dialogue session.

This not what Khaw told us:The decision to award a site designated as Place of Worship to a company not affiliated to a religious organisation is a first for the Government, said National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan in Parliament on Thursday (Jan 29). CNA

Khaw was careful to use the term “private company” and “for-profit company”**, not Dr Lam’s “commercial entity”. If Dr Lam had been an Oppo MP or NMP, the anti-PAP cyber warriors (like TOC and TRE) and their cyber-nut allies would be baying (and rightly so) for an explanation of what the HDB and URA officers told Dr Lam. But because Lam’s a PAP MP, it’s OK if public servants mad misrepresentations of fact to him?

And were they lying or making an “honest mistake”.

There doesn’t seem to be a difference between “commercial firm” and  “for-profit company”, so it would seem that the HDB and URA had assured Dr Lam that “for-profit companies” had been awarded tenders in the past.

All I can say is that  MP with his, “I was an honest broker”* (my words) and the residents deserve one another: both he and they are hypocrites.

I mean which honest broker will accuse residents of objecting to anything?

And then there is this.

At the session, Dr Lam was perceived to be defending Eternal Pure Land (EPL) – who were awarded the contentious tender – and the authorities rather than siding with his constituents. Some people pointed out that he was sitting at the same table as representatives from Life Corporation, the parent firm of EPL.

“My purpose there was first to facilitate the dialogue session, to clarify the misinformation of what was posted online, and to allow residents to raise their concerns to me and the relevant agencies,” he said. “Usually for a dialogue session, this is how it’s done.”

Well he could have taken the position of the Speaker in the UK parly, sitting between both sides. LOL

But whatever we may think of him, no public servant should misrepresent facts to anyone. Today an MP, tomorrow a Pioneer Generation Auntie.

*“I… asked HDB and URA whether a commercial entity is allowed to participate in a tender process for a place of worship, and I was informed that it had been done before,” he said.

**Mr Khaw said the Ministry of National Development is “in discussion” with Eternal Pure Land (EPL) to “ensure that the land is restored to the original plan of a Chinese temple”. He was responding to questions posed by MPs Seng Han Thong, Lee Li Lian and Lee Bee Wah.

“We now understand that the winning tenderer for this site, Eternal Pure Land, is actually a private company without any religious affiliation. From what we know, the plan of the company is to run a commercial columbarium on the site,” the minister said. “This is not in line with our plan for the Places of Worship site.”

He said the authorities never thought that a for-profit company would participate in a non-profit making venture, such as building a Chinese temple. Reports said EPL, which is owned by Australian company Life Corporation, had put in a S$5.2 million bid in July 2014.


Fernvale Lea: Owners “hiding” an inconvenient truth

In Uncategorized on 06/02/2015 at 5:11 am

The NIMBYs of Fernvale Lea (all relations of that very entitled scholar Eng or of property developers?), and their allies among the anti-PAP paper warriors don’t mention a very inconvenient fact. And surprisingly neither does the constructive, nation-building media which is the PAP’s only weapon against new media which is dominated by those opposed or not friendly (self included here) to the PAP administration.

When the “noise” started, the u/m sketch was widely circulated on the internet. I wondered what was the building (coloured grey) in between the flats and the “temple” area. 

Turns out there is a multi-storey carpark between the “temple” land and the flats. Here’s how it looks.

And the photo below shows, the proposed  “commercial” temple/ columbarium would not be visible from the ground level of the Lea. And the residents living higher up will only seen the roof. Effectively, the temple/ columbarium is not visible, or anywhere near the flats.

So waz this bull of the temple/ columbarium spoiling the enviroment? It’s all about the fear of not getting gd prices for the flats because the flats are near the “dead”.

Now that we know the tender should never have gone to a commercial entity, we should be assured that it was an “honest mistake” made by stupid bureaucrats. The PAP administration should get the CPIB and ISD to investigate the officials who approved the award and defended the decision. The reason for the CPIB is self-evident: got bribery or not?

The reason for the latter is to see if the officials are “anti-PAP” subversives trying to fix the PAP. Maybe it wasn’t “an honest mistake” but a plot against the PAP administration. Remember that the core of the WP is the activists from the Barisan Socialists, the cunning enemy of the PAP.

And the media too should be investigated by the ISD: strange that the constructive, nation-building journalists didn’t point out this fact when sliming the MIMBYs.

Next week, I’ll blog on the question that Khaw never addressed, but which he should have. Did the bureaucrats fib or is a PAP MP lying?

Related post:








Ferndale Lea: Will owners fold or raise?

In Property on 04/02/2015 at 5:03 am

Will the owners sit down and keep quiet accepting a temple with a columbarium attached to it? Or will they continue the alliance with the anti-PAP cyber warriors  and demand “justice”: temple with no columbarium or a refund.

,Since the National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan in Parliament on Thursday (Jan 29).

“We now understand that the winning tenderer for this site, Eternal Pure Land, is actually a private company without any religious affiliation. From what we know, the plan of the company is to run a commercial columbarium on the site,” the minister said. “This is not in line with our plan for the Places of Worship site.” (CNA),

while anti-PAP warriors are flooding cyberspace with continued attacks of the PAP administration and its apparent U turn, the owners have been quiet.

They had been spinning that they only objected to a commercial columbarium* because this would spoil the environment. So they wouldn’t mind a real temple that had a columbarium, would they? Because Khaw said:

He added that many temples provide an incidental columbarium service for their members and devotees, and whether the eventual temple in Sengkang will provide such a service is a decision for the temple trustees to make.

Mr Khaw said the Ministry of National Development is “in discussion” with Eternal Pure Land to “ensure that the land is restored to the original plan of a Chinese temple”

Err I suspect they would still object if there was a temple with a columbarium because this is what was circulated earlier something slighly different (analysed here by me and another) which had this very NIMBY bit

We are unhappy and felt aggrieved by HDB’s misrepresentation by way of omission of material fact in their sale brochures. We reiterate that there was absolutely NO MENTION of columbarium in the sale brochures while the stated “Ancillary Service” phrase is so general that anyone who read that would have misconstrued as something else. Such definition can only be found in URA website and not HDB website at all. Any ordinary man would not have known how to get access to the details at all.

2) We are against such sales tactic as we should be treated fairly to be given FULL DISCLOSURE of information by the seller, HDB before we chose to buy the flat. We should have the right to make INFORMED choices and not short-changed with such omission of critical material information by HDB.

And even in the BS missive to PM and Khaw they made it clear towards the end of the letter: no urns containing ashes and bones:

11. We hope that in the event of putting the land up for tender again, HDB could consider the combination of Chinese Temple with Childcare/Student Care. The Childcare/Student Care centre should be required to open to all races. This will serve the community well as many of the residents are young couples with kids.

I think the owners are hoping (and praying?) that somehow there won’t be a  columbarium. Dream on. Know any recently built temple that doesn’t have a  columbarium: the columbarium provides a good, regular stream of income that helps defry the cost of running a temple.

Meanwhile, they’ve decided to keep quiet. Smart move.


Look on the bright side: No wonder PM thinks govt doing a great job

In Economy, Financial competency, Political governance, Property on 11/12/2014 at 6:39 am

Blog E-Jay* posted this on Facebook to prove point that “PAP, will be voting against you again in 2015/2016. Thank you for making my life difficult.”

Well, there are other, reasonable legtimate ways of looking at the chart:

— Wah flat owners got windfall if they willing to retire to Batam or M’sia

— I should have used bonus for one yr to buy 3-room HDB flat for cash in early 90s . Only thing allowed for us oppressed singletons then: maybe taz why I’m so hard on those who KPKB about being discriminated for trivial things like being gay. Only a real sleaze bas got prosecuted by AGC under 377A. Had to client of M Ravi.

— HDB owners so ungrateful: property worth so much all ’cause of SuperLoong and sidekick Mah. Instead of being grateful, HDB owners fret for their children’s inability to afford “affordable” housing. PAP makes them rich, must also make their kids reach. WTF!

Seriously, what the chart tells us is that Ah Loong allowed Mah Bow Tan to screw S’poreans. And he wants us to vote for him? And not to have better checkers than the Worthless Party is now providing. One of these days, I’ll blog on why PM is behaving like scholar Eng, and how two really rich and privileged kids, to the manor born, so to speak, can teach him some humility and common sense. Then maybe, he doesn’t need checkers. In the meantime, we need better checkers than the Worthless Party’s MPs.

But we got to play our party, deprive the PAP of its two-thirds majority.

*Actually, a revised Magnificent 7 list should include him and Uncle Leong [Added at 11.00am]

S’pore property more expensive than Swiss city/ What Goh Meng Seng doesn’t tell us about HK

In Hong Kong, Property on 09/11/2014 at 6:41 am

Prime International Residential Index – Square meters US$1m will buy

  • Monaco 15
  • Hong Kong 21
  • London 25
  • Singapore 33
  • Geneva 35
  • New York 40
  • Sydney 41
  • Paris 42
  • Moscow 43
  • Shanghai 46

Source: Knight Frank

Related posts:

GMS likes to tell us online the ways in which HK is a better place than S’pore. It’s gd to get the perspective of someone who jets between HK and S’ore and who is raising a family there while working there.

But he never tells us this

Housing chart

We are not among these cities ’cause of our “affordable” public housing that is causing debt problems for younger S’poreans. It’s so affordable that GMS sold his flat to help fund his bid for a S$15,000 monthly salary. He knew he could get a second bite at the cherry if he needed to?

Whatever it is, we do know that GMS has the money to raise a family in a city where housing is very “unafforable”. He FT in HK?

CPF: The cock that Swee Say talks

In CPF, Financial competency, Financial planning on 25/06/2014 at 4:43 am

The best way for Singaporeans to prepare for retirement is to use less of their Central Provident Fund (CPF) money when they are young. Mr Lim Swee Say, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, said this will ensure the current level of CPF payout can be maintained over time and not be eroded by inflation.

Mr Lim, who is also the labour chief, made that point when speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the closing of the Singapore Model Parliament yesterday. (23 Jan 2014). He later issued a clarification saying “that housing, healthcare and education for the children” were excluded from his spending comments, saying the constructive, nation-building media had misreported him.

Even with the clarification, he was talking rubbish, showing how clueless the nTUC minister was with the life of his ordinary members.

For starters, as TRE pointed out

Using less CPF money means leaving the money with CPF board, which in the case of OA, will earn only 2.5%. Inflation rate for the last few years already exceeded 2.5% (except last year, which barely covered the 2.4% inflation rate) [Link]:

  • 2010 – 2.8%
  • 2011 – 5.2%
  • 2012 – 4.6%
  • 2013 – 2.4%

Next after his clarification that he was talking of CPF spending other than for “housing, healthcare and education for the children”, one is left wondering if he doesn’t realise that other than for these things, CPF cannot be used for other than retirement. Is he so out of touch? Or another example of his special status, like once a month CPF statement?

The more impt issue, if no use CPF, how to afford “affordable” public housing? Public housing is only “affordable” because of 20-yr mortgages that use CPF monies to finance the loans.

At the moment 36% of a S’porean’s wages are locked up in the CPF because of this Hard Truth

[Without the CPF], Singaporeans would buy enormous quantities of clothes, shoes, furniture, television sets, radio, tape recorders, hi-fis, washing machines, motor cars. They would have no substantial or permanent asset to show for it.

  • Asian Wall Street Journal, Oct 21 1985 quoting one LKY.

Our money, but can only be spent on the “right” things: uniquely S’porean.

But it was an ang moh’s idea in the first place: In February 1940, one Keynes published How to Pay for the War. He advocated that interest rates should be kept low and that compulsory saving (thereby deferring pay) should be used as a mechanism to prevent the inflation that occurred during World War One. A portion of everyone’s income would be automatically invested in government bonds. Then, when the war was over, and the economy was in dire need of savings, the money would be released. The plan was too revolutionary for the British government.

In the S’pore version, the payout got deferred and deferred.

“The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday – but never jam to-day.”
“It must come sometimes to ‘jam to-day’,” Alice objected.
“No, it can’t,” said the Queen. “It’s jam every other day: to-day isn’t any other day, you know.”
“I don’t understand you,” said Alice. “It’s dreadfully confusing!”

(Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There)

Bring back Super Mah?

In Political governance, Property, Public Administration on 10/02/2014 at 4:52 am

If the PM brings back Mah, the minister who made sure HDB prices rose in a recession*, this Forum writer should be very, very happy about. HDB prices not falling. But to be fair to this idiot KS S’porean, P Ravi has empathy for the sentiments expressed.Still that doesn’t excuse his sense of entitlement.

Can Govt ensure HDB flats keep their value over time?

There have been recent reports on the falling prices of Housing Board resale flats (“First HDB resale price dip since 2005″, Jan 25; and “Resale flat prices not yet at ‘steady state’”; last Sunday)

The number of resale transactions has fallen considerably and we are seeing some negative cash-over-valuation deals.

Despite this, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan says a “steady state” has yet to be reached and that home buyers should welcome the softening prices of HDB resale flats.

A few years ago, I took part in several flat balloting exercises as a first-time buyer. I was not successful and had to pay a steep price for a resale flat.

Then National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan had said flat owners would benefit from rising prices because their homes would become more valuable.

There is certainly a need to ensure flat buyers are not disadvantaged by overly high prices.

But it is equally imperative that due consideration be given to flat owners, so they will not suffer a loss in the value of their homes over time. Are there measures to ensure this will not happen?

Chan Kwang Ping

P Ravi on Facebook commenting on the above, “People cannot be faulted for buying a flat even when the price is high and it is the sellers’ market, because whatever the market condition, people still need a house to live in. When people’s retirement fund are stuck in the house they own, such sentiments are understandable.”

What do you think?

And do you think he he will vote for WP? Maybe as WP has promised that it will only be PAP’s co-driver, a co-driver that will let PAP do as its like (OK! OK! WP says will slap PAP if it makes mistakes. But it only gets worked up when NEA, PA and PAP make trouble for WP: not when PAP makes trouble for S’poreans.). Will he vote RP or NSP? Err I don’t think he that stupid.

Will he vote SDP? I hope so (even if I think that its policy of crawling to the Indons doesn’t work), but doubt it as SDP wants to cut the link between investment for retirement and public housing.  A laudable, rational aim, but a tough sell when so many S’poreans are taking 25 yrs to pay off 99-yr HDB leases (About 87% of S’poreans live in HDB flata). Besides these leases have been a gd investment on paper (but useless as security), so far. Hmm maybe SDP should stress these flaws.

Khaw should say, “Vote PAP leh”.

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Why banks tested for 50% plunge in property prices and other wonderful tales

In Economy, Property on 16/01/2014 at 4:23 am

Singapore banks are so well-buffered that they will be able to withstand even a 50 per cent plunge in property prices here if this were to occur over the next two years, say stress tests done by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). (BT late last yr)

I waz wondering when I read the above, why 50%?

Now I know: typical govt over-reaction:

BOTH public and private housing prices in Singapore have finally come down after a raft of government market curbs.

Prices in the once red-hot suburban private home market dropped in the fourth quarter of last year for the first time since 2009, new data yesterday showed. This dragged down overall private home prices.

Housing Board flat resale prices also tumbled in the October to December period, hard on the heels of a third-quarter decline.

This marked the first time public housing prices have slid for two straight quarters since 2005.

Consultants said weak demand for homes could mean that sellers will finally be at the mercy of home buyers this year, adding that a bumper crop of upcoming homes will swing things more heavily in favour of buyers.{417120496-19741-7479931115}

Well if property prices ever fell 50%, the PAP govt would be overthrown overnight. And the co-driver kicked out with it. mad Doc and his RI doctors will be in charge Actually it would be the end of the world as we know it.

But maybe the govt isn’t over-reacting: Note that the article conveniently forgets that the banks have been stress-tested to survive even a 50% fall in property prices. Lots of other things wrong with the analysis that I’ll cover one of these days. But for now juz remember that one LKY was a regular contributor to Forbes. Taz the quality of their contributors? Oh, the central bank has come up with a rebuttal: read it in yesterday’s constructive, nation-building media.

Next tale: the cowboys were correct that the govt should restrict HDB sales to PRs:

The proportion of Permanent Residents (PRs) buying Housing and Development Board (HDB) resale flats has gone down in the last few months.

This comes after new rules to stabilise the HDB resale market were announced in August.

PRs now have to wait three years after obtaining their Singapore PR status before they are allowed to buy an HDB resale flat.

According to HDB, in the three months after the new rules were announced, PRs made up 12 per cent of all HDB resale transactions, with 528 units sold to them.

This is down eight percentage points from January to August, when PRs made up 20 per cent of all HDB resale transactions.

There were 2,581 resale flats sold during that period.

HDB also noted that the decrease is not unexpected, as there are now fewer PRs eligible to buy a resale flat.

It also pointed out the drop may not be solely due to the three-year waiting period. (CNA 23 december 2013).

Maybe PM should outsource policy decisions to the masses. Even IT operations are being done by the masses via crowdsourcing

DBS doing NS on HDB loans?

In Corporate governance on 13/11/2013 at 4:26 am

If it’s one thing S’poreans who are paying off the mortgages on their HDB flats can agree on, it is that the govt is stretching the truth when it says that HDB mortgage payments are affordable because mortgagors can use CPF money leh. They are not that daft not to realise that it affects their old-age funds. And anyway, it’s always nice to pay less.

So it’s interesting that DBS has a very gd scheme for HDB borrowers. So gd that only the daft wouldn’t apply for it. I’ll let BT explain:

Thousands of HDB homeowners are turning to DBS Bank for a mortgage product that guarantees savings.

Those who took up a POSB HDB loan when it was launched in April could be looking at savings of as much as $1,600 by next month, calculations from DBS showed.

The first POSB HDB loan pilot launch – where homebuyers enjoyed a floating-rate loan with interest capped below the HDB concessionary rate for 10 years – was fully sold.

The bank is now into its second offering, which charges the same rate but for eight years, said Ms Lui.

The current POSB HDB loan charges for the first eight years the three-month Sibor (Singapore interbank offered rate) plus 1.38 per cent, capped at the CPF Ordinary Account rate. The current CPF Ordinary Account rate is 2.50 per cent.

Thereafter, the loan charges three-month Sibor plus 1.48 per cent. The September three-month Sibor is 0.374 per cent.

The HDB concessionary loan now charges 2.60 per cent, which consists of 0.10 per cent plus the CPF Ordinary Account rate of 2.50 per cent. Based on the three-month Sibor of 0.38 per cent, borrowers who switch from the HDB concessionary loan will pay a lower interest rate of 1.75 per cent.

For a homebuyer refinancing from the HDB in April, based on a loan of $400,000 and 25-year tenor, the potential savings over six months amount to $1,684.

And should interest rates rise over the next eight years, DBS guarantees that it will be capped at the CPF Ordinary Account rate of 2.50 per cent or 0.10 per cent below the HDB concessionary rate.{563079109-19246-5011258124}

Nice to see DBS returning to its roots as “Development Bank of S’pore”., and using the POSB brand which some Foreign Trash CEO tried to get rid off. Fortunately, he went before the POSB brand went. Gd work ,New Citizen Gupta.

But if DBS is doing gd, is this mortgage making money, on a risk-adjusted basis, for DBS? How come OCBC and UOB don’t have similar schemes? Maybe DBS is helping out in constructive nation-building? Err what about shareholder value for non-controlling shareholders and gd corporate governance?

Never mind, I don’t own DBS shares.

To lose one Hard Truth may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose three in two months looks like carelessness

In Political governance on 09/09/2013 at 4:50 am

(“Mah & Yaacob disprove PAP’s Hard Truth on ministerial salaries”)

The implicit disowning of the Malay minister’s claims when he was Water minister that once-in-50-yrs floods were causing problems, not his ministry’s disfunctionality, has been implicitly disowned by the govt when the present Water minister said an expressway flood is unacceptable. Yaacob, talked of several floods that occurred several months apart as very exceptional events that could not be reasonably foreseen. VivianB’s comments imply that very heavy rain should be foreseen and planned for.

This reminded of another recent occasion when another Hard Truth was disowned.

On  26 August 2013, new rules were imposed by the Housing and Development Board (HDB). The one that caught the headlines and public attention was that households with permanent residency, or PR, status can only buy previously owned state-built homes if they have held PR status for at least three years. Permanent residents, who made up 10% of Singapore’s population of 5.3 million people in 2012, could previously buy a HDB flat from the resale market immediately after getting PR status.

But what S’poreans seemed to ignore was the rule change that would also offer public-housing loans with a reduced maximum tenure of 25 years, down from 30 years. Public-housing mortgage payments would be capped at 30% of borrowers’ gross monthly income, down from 35%. Prudent leh, we are told.

In 2011, one Mah Bow Tan argued that HDB flats were afforable because : It only took 30 years, 2 incomes and 30% of the 2 incomes to pay for the HDB flat.

As one blogger said qat the time: How many of you agree that this affordable formula is fair? This formula means that for the first 30 years of one’s working life, there could be very little saving for retirement. Most could only start to save after repaying their 30 year loan. So don’t ask why you don’t have enough savings for retirement. The other point which this formula dictates is that both husband and wife must be working to be able to afford the HDB flat. One income, forget it. And there are families that have to live on one income, by choice or by circumstances beyond their control, or by tragedies.

He went on: The people must denounce this formula as unaffordable. 30% of one income for 30 years is already too much. It was 20% of one income for 20 years for a 5 rm flat for a fresh graduate. But the goal posts have been shifted during the last decade that people have come to accept 2 incomes and 30 years as the norm. It is not, and it should not be the case.

Well the PAP govt has now dropped the 30-yr part of the formula. And by implication, condemned the man who said it. The PAP should also be asking itself, “Was it worth it to change to a GRC system, so that this clown chap could be made a minister? Maybe better if we never had him as a minister? Why did we let him remain a minister for so many yrs?”.

What next PAP? Ditch his point that selling HDB flats at cheapish prices was tantamount to raiding the reserves?

And while I’m at it, how come our ex-ministers can’t earn this kind of serious money? Players on the int’l stage in business deal-making

Instead they

PAP listening to SDP?

In Infrastructure on 11/03/2013 at 6:22 am

Err didn’t the govt rubbish the SDP’s idea of lowering the cost of HDB flats by making it a condition of getting cheaper flats that they be resold to HDB?

And didn’t Khaw just say that this idea will be studied? But didn’t credit the SDP for suggesting it?

As an oldie using SingHealth, here’s hoping the SDP’s healthcare ideas be adopted* and that Paul A** gets co-opted to become Health minister.


*Never mind if it bankrupts S’pore as healthcare costs in the US and UK are bankrupting these nations, I’ll be dead.

**He was a possible SDP candidate for Punggol-East. Gd that he didn’t stand because he couldn’t claim to be born poor: even s/o JBJ claimed that although born in a pram made of gold, silver and ivory, he became poor when his dad took on the PAP. He dared make this claim even though he went to very expensive ang moh schools. JBJ became so poor that he could send his son to expensive schools? Come on, man who doesn’t know the Pledge, pull the other leg, it’s got bells on it.


Public housing: a brickbat, two cheers & constructive suggestions

In Environment, Political governance on 07/02/2013 at 6:25 am

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. 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 The architect who wants “more space” must be very upset with Khaw’s “worse-case scenario”.

HDB: Oversupply again by next GE?

In Property on 19/11/2011 at 6:40 am

The housing market in Singapore is heading for a prolonged downturn and overall private home prices are forecast to fall between 22 and 26%  in the next three years, Daiwa Research said. “We believe the residential property market could remain depressed for several years, triggered initially by a likely forthcoming gross domestic product slowdown (in 2012) and lingering global economic uncertainty.” (If you think this is bad, Barclays predicts a 45% decline in HK.)

Daiwa downgraded its view of Singapore’s property sector to “Negative” from “Neutral”, adding that “it is hard for us to see the developer shares outperforming the Straits Times Index over the next six months” despite their underperformance in the year to date.

From late next year, Daiwa said, structural issues such as the rapid build-up in unsold inventory in the primary market and vacant rental units will take centre stage and keep home prices and rents in check for several years. The mass-market segment will hold up slightly better than high-end properties, supported by better affordability and the resilience in the resale prices of HDB flats.

Err what happens if because of

— less FTS,

— slower economic growth or even a recession, and

— Khaw’s promise to build, build,

kiasu young S’poreans decide not to take up the HDB flats that are being built because they think prices will tank?

Remember that Mah overbuilt by more than 150,000 units in 2003, and was beaten up by the Opposition and netizens. For housing, the simple answer was the electorate demanded it, if you could recall the daily outcry in 2001 – 2003 by the opposition as well as members of publc on wastage of public funds on the more than 150,000 units left empty:  ajohor, a poster, on my blog pointed out recently.

(BTW can you blame him for then being super cautious and getting a reputation as the man who made public housing prices go up in a recession? No can win. But he got millions in the bank to console him, so no need to cry for him.)

Final tots. If there is an overhang of HDB flats, what will the Opposition and netizens then say? And how will the voters vote? For or against PAP? Hmm maybe PM deserves his global benchmark breaking salary? Salary review committee pls note.

Hong Kong to resume subsidising housing

In Hong Kong on 13/10/2011 at 5:07 pm

Hong Kong will resume a programme to subsidise home purchases to address public anger over ever rising property prices.

Donald Tsang, HK’s leader, said in his annual policy address that the government plans to provide more than 17,000 apartments between 2016 and 2020. On average about 5,000 apartments will be available each year. “Peanuts” by S’pore standards and remember there are lots more people in HK.

The programme is aimed at families who earn too much to qualify for public rental housing but who cannot afford to buy a home of their own.

The flats are to be priced at the equivalent of S$250,000 – S$330,000 and available to those earning a monthly salary of the equivalent of S$3,300 and S$5,000. These apartments will be between 400 to 500 square feet in size.

More background from BBC Online.


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