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Mitigating the Public Housing Problem: Tay Kheng Soon Calls for “Citizen Dividend”

Veteran architect and socio-political activist Tay Kheng Soon has called for a “citizen dividend”, since the government has “creamed off” the asset value of public housing and invested the funds into reserves.

Tay was speaking at a town hall meeting organised by “Workers Made Possible” yesterday (9 Apr).

He said that the greatest mistake that made by the government was to “sell the idea to people, to the population, about asset enhancement”.

“That is really an opiate in which people got drugged. And in the process has weakened the entire society.”

Tay said the asset enhancement scheme has led to many Singaporeans tying up their savings in HDB flats, and these Singaporeans will likely suffer a loss as their HDB leases run down.

The scheme, said Tay, has also resulted in young Singaporeans being trapped in a debt cycle and cannot engage in entrepreneurial behaviour because they need to pay off their mortgages.

Overall, Tay said the scheme has weakened Singapore’s social fabric because people are more focused on the upkeep of their homes rather than the wellbeing of their neighbours.

“The society has become atomized. There is no sense of community.”

Calling for the “citizen dividend”, Tay said:

“It is impossible to calculate what that dividend will be because we do not know what is the total amount of asset that has been salted away.”

However, he added that such a divided is necessary because it “makes citizenship meaningful”.

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