RONALD LEE: On 16th January this year, current Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Chan Chun Sing said that “Singaporean families earning S$1,000 a month can indeed afford their own flats because of various housing grants. As a result, the lowest 20th percentile of households have an average net home equity of S$200,000. That is an achievement no other nation in the world can boast of.”
It appears that Mr Chan’s boast, which was aimed at attacking an article Dr Chee Soon Juan wrote for the Huffington Post, is bordering on empty talk.
Just yesterday, TODAY newspaper published a story called “The last Ubinites: A short hop, and a world away”.
The newspaper interviewed a Pulau Ubin resident, Mdm Ong Siew Fong, who said that due to the HDB not screening her flat application process appropriately, she winded up losing her hard-earned savings of S$1000.
“Last year, Mdm Ong tried to apply for a HDB flat, but she was unsuccessful as their monthly family income of S$1,300 was too low. The family had to forfeit the deposit of S$1,000.
‘It’s all our hard-earned savings, gone down the drain,’ said Ms Wong.”
DPM Tharman made a similar boast back in 2012, which is the statement I believe Maj-Gen Chan was simply parroting.
Speaking in parliament, DPM Tharman said “a family with a monthly income of as low as S$1,000 can now purchase a small flat”.
We’ve a real-life example of someone who’s household income is S$300 more than Maj-Gen Chan believes is enough to afford a HDB flat, as reported by state media.
So what’s the real deal?
All this idealistic talk, coupled with the HDB’s poor procedures, has just made a poor 72-year-old S$1000 poorer – which to her is a lot of money.
The government can of course step in now and help Mdm Ong with her application process, waive off whatever was taken from her, and put a nice publicity spin on this story.
But the question remains – why give people hope only for it to be dashed, and at a huge cost?
This issue needs to be addressed.