Speech on Affordable and Accessible Public Housing, and Public Housing Policies
Ms Carrie Tan (Nee Soon): (In Mandarin): Thank you, Mr Speaker, for giving me this opportunity to speak. Having heard the debate yesterday and comments on social media, especially after having heard the speeches of Progress Singapore Party (PSP) Members of Parliament, I feel that I should say a few words.
First, yesterday, Member of Parliament Hazel Poa asked why we could not build sufficient flats in one go, like what we have done during Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s time. She also asked the Minister whether he thought Mr Lee Kuan Yew had raided our reserves. Her questions surprised me.
Times have changed. At that time, we didn’t have a mature HDB resale market, nor did we have much reserves to speak of. What was the point or purpose of her question?
Second, Mr Leong Mun Wai had also spoken about PSP’s Affordable Homes Scheme, the purpose of which is to strengthen the principle that a HDB flat is for owner occupation, not investment. However, when he responded to a netizen’s comment on his Facebook, he said that his intention was for Singaporeans to keep their CPF money, and not to be “condemned to living in HDB flats” forever because they cannot afford private housing. When I read this, I was very puzzled. What did he mean by saying “condemned to living in HDB flats”?
In Singapore, more than 80% of our citizens live in HDB flats and many of them have been living there for their whole life. We bring up our children in HDB flats and some of us have upgraded from a 3-room flat to a 5-room flat. Many middle-income families are very proud of this. Mr Leong Mun Wai really should not say that people are “condemned” to stay in HDB flats. What is wrong with staying in a HDB flat? By saying so, Mr Leong seems to be subconsciously looking down on those who live in HDB flats.
Since December last year, Mr Leong has kept on changing his stance. First, he said that we should not include the cost of the land into the prices of HDB flats; then he said we should use historical prices; yesterday he said that we could include the land cost, but delay it until we sell, and give it back to HDB together with interests. Within three months, he changed his stance three times. Can such a scheme be reliable?
Shifting stances aside, I tried to give serious thought to his proposal. Mr Leong suggested that when selling new flats, the price should only include building cost, thus reducing the price drastically. Hence, people do not need to spend their CPF money to buy a flat. This is indeed very appealing.
However, if you think twice, you will realise that this will further increase the price gap between BTO flats and resale flats. Looking at the BTO application data last year and considering our “kiasu” mentality, the PSP proposal will only cause more people to apply for BTO flats, because it is a good deal! But the resale market will suffer from lack of buyers, the resale price will fall precipitously. Can Mr Leong be sure that such a scenario will not happen?
If this were to happen, the asset value of current HDB flat owners will fall. How is Mr Leong going to resolve this?
In my constituency in Yishun, there are many Ah Gong and Ah Ma in their 70s or 80s who are thinking of leaving their flat to their children, or selling it and distributing the proceeds to their children, or selling it back to the Government at market price. In this way, they will not only be able to stay in the same flat, but also have spare money to spend for the rest of their life, without the need to depend on their children so much. If we were to implement the PSP’s policy, Ah Gong and Ah Ma’s asset value will drop sharply. Where then can they get their retirement security?
I can understand the anxieties our residents have been feeling in the past two years. Geopolitical uncertainty, rising prices and the pandemic have made young people, who were forced to stay at home, to want to have their own space more urgently. Construction delay has also made the younger generation worry about if they are able to get a flat. All these anxieties add up to the challenges in getting a flat successfully. It is human nature to feel this way.
However, if we look further, these feelings are all transitory and caused by the special circumstances in the past two years.
We cannot step on the brake suddenly on the government policies and simply reset. What will happen if you brake suddenly? The cars behind will ram into you.
Now the PSP is calling for a policy reset and its proposals are only for immediate convenience, hoodwinking the people with short-term interests. Their so-called policy reforms on retirement security are likely to cause 80% of Singaporeans who own HDB flats to lose their safety net overnight.
I believe Singaporeans are rational. We need to address the immediate challenges with right solutions, not empty theories on paper.
I urge Singaporeans to think over this thoroughly and not try to make hasty changes to important policies because of temporary challenges. Hasty actions will only lead to our forefathers’ efforts being wasted away.
To resolve the current issue, I think the Government is right to step up the supply of BTO flats and give young couples priority to get a flat through targeted measures. I support the Motion raised by the Minister for National Development, Mr Desmond Lee.
第一，昨天，潘群勤 议员 问政府为什么不能像在 60年代李光耀时代一样，一次过预先建起充裕的組屋。又问部长认不认为李光耀当时也在盗用储备金。她的问题令我感到诧异。
第二，梁文辉 昨天提出了前进党的安乐居计划，其中一个目的是强化购买組屋为了居住而不是投资的原则。可是今天早上在他的脸书对一位网民的提问，他回话说，他的用意是让国人能保存退休金，不用一辈子因为买不起私人住宅而都被判注定得居住在政府組屋里。“condemned to living in HDB flats”。我看了心里很纳闷。
超过 80% 的国民都住在政府組屋，很多都住了一辈子，在政府組屋里养儿育女，有的从三方式提升到 5方式。这是许多小康之家一整代人应以为荣的。
梁文辉实在不应该这么形容 “国人被判或注定得住在政府組屋 ”。这种话似乎意味他潜意识中带着鄙视的眼光看待我们居住在組屋的大众。